Oyster Hatchery Program
Leaving the Bay Better Than We Found It
Thanks to efforts from remote setting and hatchery projects, we are seeing a large scale improvement in the numbers of healthy oysters in our bay. Our remote setting project is an effort to not only restore, but improve wild oyster populations in the Chesapeake Bay for public fisheries. Generally, we harvest 7million oysters from the bay for consumption and the following spring we plant over 100million juvenile oysters. The amount of oysters we are growing and returning to the bay is thirteen hundred times the amount we harvest.
It all comes down to caring about where you live. We hold the environment in high regard and are working to keep it clean and flourishing for generations to come. Our hatchery program, our sustainable fishery, and processing practices keep local marine life protected, the bay water clean, and your seafood at its freshest quality.
Our Hatchery Process
Shucking 100 bushels of oysters a day results in a LOT of oyster shells. Throughout the season, we collect these shells in piles to save for the Spring. Every year, we have roughly 14 million oyster shells to use for our hatchery, which is double the amount we harvested.
Fertilization & Setting
We work with aquaculture biologists along the Eastern Shore who produce billions of larvae by using selective breeding to induce fertilization on healthy broodstock.
After this process, larvae is introduced to our tank of cultch (cleansed oyster shells) with bay water. Air is pumped through bottom of tank to circulate larvae through out the tank, meeting shells. They then attach to shells and metamorphoses into spat; baby oysters. The setting process takes approximately 2 - 3 days, resulting in 10 - 20 larvae, per one shell.
Ensuring spat are in the ultimate condition to thrive requires the monitoring of water filtration and temperature, while adding phytoplankton to the tank as their diet. We then pump this nutrient-rich water through the tank for 7-10 days, while the spat grows to adequate size for planting. We then return the healthy, growing spat back to their natural habitat of public oyster reefs.