Markell announces investment in oyster reefs

Gov. Jack Markell today announced a plan to help restore and stabilize the oyster population in the Delaware Bay.

Delaware will invest $50,000 in the Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration Project, matching a pledge by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary last September. Similar past investments yielded $25 to $50 for every dollar spent, according to state officials.

“Investing in oyster reefs will increase Delaware’s oyster harvest, provide jobs, support our state’s economy, and keep us supplied with some of the best eating oysters in the country,” Markell said.

Last year Delaware’s oyster harvest had an overall economic impact in the state of more than $2.1 million. Prices dockside for Delaware oysters ranged from $35 – $50 per bushel, among the highest in the nation.

The project will continue replenishing oyster beds by planting clam shells on historic reefs so that baby oysters or “spat” have a place to attach and grow. Shell planting not only enhances oyster survival but provides habitat for marine life. In addition, adult oysters play a key role in improving the water quality of the bay – each one may filter up to 50 gallons of water a day.

“Oyster restoration has tremendous impacts to our commercial oyster industry and the environmental health of the Delaware Bay,” said Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara. “Our goal is to increase Delaware’s oyster harvest in the long-term, and shell planting is the most cost-effective way to provide oyster habitat, stabilize shell losses and substantially increase the survival of juvenile oysters.”

The Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration Task Force needs another $50,000 to reach its minimum goal of $200,000 to revitalize oyster reefs before the summer spawning season.

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