|Oyster Restoration in the Lynnhaven River|
Disease- MSX and Dermo are the most prevalent oyster diseases, and both are more prevalent in saline waters near the mouth of the Bay. They are both parasites. MSX is fatal, and can affect oysters of all ages, while Dermo is a slow-moving disease that may allow the oyster to live to reproductive age. Neither disease has any human health impacts.
Oyster Shell Recycling- Oysters need hard substrate to attach to in order to grow, and there is a serious shortage in the Bay. Many programs exist to collect shells for restoration efforts.
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Spat-on-shell - Baby oysters growing on old oyster shells..
Restoration - To achieve restoration, each reef in the tributary should contain 50 oysters and 50 grams of dry weight/m2 over 30% of the reef, with at least two year classes (generations) surviving. One 3-inch oyster weighs about 1 gram. For the entire tributary to be restored, 50-100% of the restorable bottom must contain reefs that meet restoration requirements. The area must also cover 8-16% of the historic oyster footprint- area that oysters have historically inhabited.
Lynnhaven River has been the center of many community-based restoration and oyster shell recycling efforts over the past few decades. In recent years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ahs constructed 58 acres of oyster reef in the river and plans to construct 30 more acres. NOAA, state efforts like the Virginia Oyster Heritage Program, and nonprofit organizations including Lynnhaven River NOW, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Oyster Reef Keepers of Virginia have performed smaller-scale restoration involving students and citizen groups. Most of these projects have involved the creation of artificial reefs and adding spat-on-shell to these reefs. These projects have seen some measureable progress and have increased the oyster population in the Lynnhaven dramatically.
The Lynnhaven was chosen for restoration partly because of these previous efforts, its sufficient water quality, and evidence that Lynnhaven oysters have developed some resistance to disease. In addition, it is one of only three tributaries in Virginia that are currently closed to oyster harvesting (except aquaculture), which will allow existing and implemented populations to grow and reproduce. The Chesapeake Bay Program's Sustainable Fisheries Goal Implementation Team plans to determine whether the Lynnhaven River already meets the restoration standards set forth in the oyster metrics, and will determine next steps after the data has been collected and analyzed. NOAA and the Army Corps are cochairing this effort.
How Close Are Oysters in the Lynnhaven River to Being "Restored"?
Progress Report: TBD after Tributary Analysis
References and Additional Information: