Helping oysters to benefit the environment

Oysters are natural filter feeders that sometimes do not get the recognition they deserve, but the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Action Plan set a goal to improve habitats for native animals like oysters.

The Chesapeake watershed encompasses 64,000-square miles in six states, creating a perfect breeding ground for oysters. According to a professor with the University of Maryland, oysters themselves provide benefits to the region’s overall health.

“Oysters are recognized as being powerful ecosystem engineers and its transformative effect over their local environment, and those benefits are great and even when you’re growing oysters as a crop, their benefits are still apparent,” Matthew Gray states. “If you make an oyster reef, you’re providing habitat for a lot of other commercially and ecologically valuable fish species for example.”

He says that oyster reefs can also dampen waves, which brings another sweet of environmental benefits to where they are grown.