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Congress Approves Funding for Oyster Restoration

Sustained efforts to restore native oysters critical for both ecological and economic health of Chesapeake Bay

Washington, DC | December 22, 2010

Efforts to restore native oysters in the Chesapeake Bay received support recently when Congress provided $5 million in federal funding through appropriations to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for work in the Chesapeake.

Native oysters have played a vital role in the economy and ecology of the Chesapeake Bay, by providing reef habitat for fish species such as striped bass, helping to clean water by filtering it, and supporting the seafood industry and watermen in the region. While the extent of healthy oyster reefs has declined dramatically over the last century, a new focus on targeted and sustained restoration at larger scales offers significant hope at reversing the loss of habitat and greatly enhancing the many services oysters provide to people and the Chesapeake Bay.

This new approach is supported by recommendations from recent expert panels in both Maryland and Virginia, as well as a federally-led study on oyster restoration alternatives. The latest investments by federal, state, and local partners in places such as Maryland’s Choptank River and Virginia’s Great Wicomico River show this focus can yield measureable progress.

“The bounty of the Chesapeake Bay is part of who we are as Marylanders. Oysters are part of our heritage and part of our culture. And so are the watermen of the Chesapeake Bay. I am committed to the Bay and the lives and livelihoods that depend on it,” said Senator Barbara Mikulski, Chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee that funds NOAA.

“That’s why I’ve fought to put more than $5 million in the federal checkbook to help restore oyster populations in the Chesapeake Bay.”

“With the right investments and management decisions by the public and private sectors, we can have native oyster populations that provide significant ecological and economic benefits,” said Mark Bryer, Chesapeake Program director for The Nature Conservancy. “We are extremely thankful to Congress for continued federal investment in restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay, particularly Senator Mikulski for her leadership on this issue.”

The following Congressional Representatives and Senators also played important roles in supporting this investment:

  • In Virginia: Senators Warner and Webb and Representatives Moran, Connolly, and Scott.
  • In Maryland: Senator Cardin and Representatives Edwards, Hoyer, Kratovil, Ruppersberger, Sarbanes and Van Hollen.
  • In the District: Representative Norton.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

Contact information

Jon Schwedler
(301) 897-8570

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