Maryland has selected the WRF Group LLC, a Cambridge aquaculture company, for a major oyster sanctuary project in the Eastern Bay.
The project involves planting 210 million juvenile oysters over 52.5 acres of sanctuaries as part of a broader initiative to restore oysters in the state’s waters, considering their historical economic importance. Two large vessels, the Robert Ute and the Taylor Alyse, both with high-pressure water hoses, will be employed to distribute oyster spat onto the sanctuary beds. Additional vessels, including Shell of a Journey and Richard Lee, have been repurposed for restoration work.
Planting will occur in five sanctuary areas in Queen Anne’s and Talbot County waters. Chesapeake Bay commercial hatcheries are producing around 725 million diploid oyster larvae for reef building. There’s an option for WRF Group to extend their work onto an additional 172 acres over the next three years.
The owner, Ricky Fitzhugh, emphasized WRF’s unique qualifications for this large-scale restoration effort and expressed their plan to work collaboratively with agencies, conservation organizations, and associations under the new venture “Seed to Shuck Ventures”.
Given the project’s complexity, WRF has formed partnerships with several companies across the Chesapeake Bay region for larvae production, seed planting, administrative support, and ground truthing surveys. (Learn More)