U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and
Barbara A. Mikulski
(both D-MD) today announced the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released almost $2 million to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to help restore the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster population. The funding, secured by Senator Mikulski in the FY2010 Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) funding bill, will allow for targeted oyster restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, and will help monitor oyster health.
“The health of Maryland’s oyster population is critical to the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland’s environment,” said
Senator Cardin, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and author of legislation to reduce pollution and improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay. “We know that oyster restoration efforts work and this new funding will allow for additional restoration of oyster beds to help bring back this important species to our watershed.”
“The Chesapeake Bay is part of who we are as Marylanders – it is part of our heritage and part of our culture – and it’s our greatest natural resource. This funding is a federal investment in the lives and livelihoods that depend on the Bay,” said
Senator Mikulski, Chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science. “I will continue to fight to keep the Bay and Eastern Shore communities priorities in the federal checkbook.”
DNR was awarded $1,998,000 to implement a multi-year oyster population restoration process, which includes reseeding, monitoring, and evaluation of different restoration methods. To make this happen, DNR works directly with the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science to produce the oyster seed, or “spat on shell,” and then with the Oyster Recovery Partnership and local watermen for on-the-water operations to rebuild reefs. When complete, the project will place up to 100 million seeds in targeted Chesapeake Bay tributaries to aid with oyster population recovery.
“Today in Maryland we are on the verge of making history with a plan that will help rebuild our native oyster population, create new business and jobs through aquaculture, and maintain a wild fishery for working families.” said
Governor Martin O’Malley. “I want to thank Senator Mikulski and Senator Cardin for leading the charge in Washington in support of our shared vision: the return of an abundant, self-sustaining native oyster population to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries – one that will be an ecological, economic and cultural resource for our children and theirs.”
“We need to get more oysters in the Bay, and restoring our natural reefs is the way forward,” said
Larry Simns, President of Maryland Watermen’s Association, “Senator Mikulski deserves a lot of credit for helping the Bay, and the funds she provided means we can continue rebuilding our oyster fishery and moving ahead.”
“Oysters play a vital role in the Chesapeake Bay’s recovery,” said
Stephan Abel, Executive Director of the Oyster Recovery Partnership. “Through the steady leadership and ongoing support provided by Senator Barbara Mikulski, these funds will support the production and planting of hundreds of millions of oysters that in turn will have a direct impact in improving the health of the Chesapeake Bay while supporting Maryland's waterfront communities.”
Senator Mikulski fights to protect the way of life and livelihoods that depend on the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster population. Since 1995, Senator Mikulski has secured nearly $33 million in funding for the construction of new oyster reefs and oyster reseeding efforts in the Chesapeake Bay, partnering with NOAA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.