Oyster Shuckers

Local Wild Chesapeake Bay Oyster Season Just Around the Corner

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Oystermen in the Chesapeake Bay are gearing up for the extensive public oyster season, spanning from October 1, 2023, to March 31, 2024. Hand tongers, oyster divers, and patent tongers will commence oystering on October 1, while skipjacks and power dredgers begin on November 1. Numerous oystermen consistently reached their daily “limit” (12 bushels per license) every weekday last season, showcasing the significant recovery of the wild oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay.

This resurgence is largely attributed to the spat-on-shell planting initiatives throughout the Bay. This summer alone, the Horn Point Oyster Hatchery on the Choptank River introduced over 1 billion oysters to oyster sanctuaries in the Chesapeake Bay, utilizing recycled oyster shells. Additionally, private profit-driven oyster hatcheries have emerged, catering to the oyster aquaculture industry. The sheer volume of these shellfish aids in purifying the Bay’s waters.

The surge in aquatic vegetation coverage in the Bay testifies to the enhanced filtration contributed by the burgeoning shellfish populace. Oysters, as the Bay’s “cornerstone species,” play a pivotal role in the survival and prosperity of many native species within the Bay.