Perdue volunteers, Oyster Recovery Partnership fill 1,000 shells bags

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 More than 100 associates and family members joined with Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) representatives to fill about 1,000 oyster shell bags in support of Marylanders Grow Oysters program, an initiative run by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to engage waterfront homeowners in helping to restore the Bay’s oyster population.

The bagged shells will provide a home for nearly 2 million new oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.

“The Oyster Recovery Partnership has led the way in efforts to protect and preserve the regional oyster population, and we’re proud to continue our partnership with ORP that highlights our company commitment to environmental stewardship through this volunteer effort,” said Steve Schwalb, vice president of environmental sustainability at Perdue.

The Marylanders Grows Oysters program provides an opportunity for waterfront property owners to grow oysters from their piers to be planted on local oyster sanctuary preserves around the Chesapeake Bay to help rebuild the oyster population.

On Thursday, the Oyster Recovery Partnership transported one large truckload of cleaned and aged oyster shells to Perdue’s Corporate Office parking lot where volunteers filled nylon bags with the empty shells. The bags are a key ingredient in the oyster production process. Young larvae will attach themselves to the recycled shells through a setting process using large tanks filled with water at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Oyster Hatchery in Cambridge, where the larvae are produced. Once the larvae attach to the shell, the baby oysters (now called “spat”) will be distributed among the 30 tributaries participating in the 2014-2015 Marylanders Grow Oysters program.

“Perdue Farms and its associates have been great friends of the Oyster Recovery Partnership and the Chesapeake Bay,” said Stephan Abel, executive director of the Oyster Recovery Partnership. “Since 2009, they have been active with the Marylanders Grows Oysters initiative and have helped enhance this important community-based effort throughout the Eastern Shore. Their efforts continue to have a positive impact on the future of the Bay’s oyster population and its ecosystem.”

As Chad Clem, project coordinator for Perdue’s oyster recovery volunteer efforts, explains, “This marks our fifth year partnering with ORP for community-based conservation efforts. At Perdue, our stewardship value guides us in our commitment to protect our environment and we take great pride in efforts like that enable our associates to give back for the betterment of our community and the environment.”

The Oyster Recovery Partnership has a 20-year history of bringing together state and federal government agencies, scientists, watermen and conservation organizations with the common goal of oyster restoration. The Oyster Recovery Partnership has planted 5 billion oysters, rehabilitated more than 1,600 acres of oyster reefs and recycled over 2,400 tons of oyster shell from restaurants throughout the region.

Marylanders Grow Oysters, a program under Gov. Martin O’Malley’s Smart, Green & Growing Initiative Program, is being managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in conjunction with the Oyster Recovery Partnership, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

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