Saving Native Oysters

SAVING NATIVE OYSTERS

Over the last 10 years, thousands of students and citizens have worked together with non-profits and governmental organizations to build oyster reefs in the Lynnhaven and to stock millions of reproductive oysters to the reefs. These community-raised oysters reproduce in the river, thus their babies also contribute to the Lynnhaven’s impressive developing oyster population. After only a decade of restoration activities, I am delighted to be able to report that all of this effort is working! Ten years ago, the Lynnhaven’s oyster population was estimated to be at about 1% of historic abundance, and recent calculations estimate that we may have already increased the Lynnhaven’s population to as much as 10% of historic abundance. That is a 10-fold increase in 10 years.

There is a heated debate underway right now with some parties favoring the introduction of a non-native oyster species to Chesapeake Bay waters. The Suminoe oyster, Crassostrea ariakensis, is the oyster species under consideration. If this asian oyster species is introduced into Chesapeake Bay and invades the Lynnhaven River (a likely scenario if the oyster is introduced), the asian oysters will surely hinder the restoration of our native oysters because the Suminoe oyster interferes with native oyster reproduction, undermining the laudable oyster restoration progress in the Lynnhaven. In addition to jeopardizing our native oyster restoration efforts, the Suminoe oyster harbors human pathogens moreso than our native oyster, posing more risk for human consumption, and the Suminoe oyster may cause increased oyster disease risks to our existing native oysters. For these, and several additional reasons, Lynnhaven River NOW, together with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Oyster Reef Keepers of Virginia, and all of the nearby Mid-Atlantic states are saying “no” to introducing Crassostrea ariakensis to the Cheapeake Bay.

Thank you for continuing to value and advance native oyster restoration in the Lynnhaven River!

Click Here to read Lynnhaven River NOW’s
letter to the Army Corps of Engineers.

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December 2017

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