Oysters play critical roles in the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem—by filtering water as they feed and by providing habitat and forage for other Bay species. But only about 1 percent of the historic oyster population remains in Maryland due to overharvesting, habitat loss, and disease. So partners including NOAA are working to restore oyster reefs.
By restoring these reefs—and the functions they provide—what changes can commercial fishermen anticipate? And what do restored reefs mean for the economy in the region?
NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Habitat Conservation developed a technical memorandum, “Estimating Ecological Benefits and Socio-Economic Impacts from Oyster Reef Restoration in the Choptank River Complex, Chesapeake Bay” (PDF, 78 pages). It includes findings from scientists and economists at six different institutions. The research was made possible by funding from the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Using computer modeling, researchers focused on the Choptank River system. The system includes three tributaries where large-scale oyster restoration is under way: Harris Creek, Little Choptank River, and Tred Avon River.