The Orvis Commitment
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Save the Oyster. Save the Bay.
Orvis will match your donation to help in restoring oyster reefs and increasing fish habitat in the Chesapeake Bay
Saving the Bay is uniquely tied to restoring the native oyster. The oysters in the Chesapeake were once so plentiful they could filter a volume of water equal to that of the entire Bay (about 19 trillion gallons) in three days. Today, it would take the current oyster population more than a year to perform the same task. In fact, the Bay's native oyster population has been reduced to a fraction of what it once was—as low as one percent of historic levels, making restoration critical to help improve the Bay’s water quality and increase its economic viability.
Historically, Chesapeake oysters were the Bay's most valuable fishery. Ecologically, native oysters are equally important: they filter algae, sediment, and other pollutants from the water. Healthy oyster reefs also provide habitat for fish, crabs, and other Bay species. While we’ve made progress, more work remains to meet the Bay-wide restoration goal of restoring self-sustaining oyster populations in ten rivers by the year 2025.
How You Can Help
Orvis will match your donation up to $30,000 for a total of $60,000 in 2014 to support the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s (CBF) Oyster Restoration Programs in Maryland and Virginia. CBF will work with partners and volunteers to restore native oyster reefs and increase fish habitat. To do this, CBF will utilize a unique method of “setting” juvenile oysters on reef balls—concrete structures to which oysters attach themselves. Hundreds of volunteers will assist in building up to 500 reef balls. Juvenile oysters will be set on a majority of these reef balls and they will then be deployed into sanctuary reefs—meaning they will be protected from harvesting—in the Choptank River in Maryland and the Lafayette River in Virginia.
This project will not only further oyster restoration in the Chesapeake Bay, but it will also help improve water quality and enhance fish habitat. Oyster reefs are prime fishing grounds for rockfish, spot, croaker, perch, and many other species. Often recreational fishermen are seen fishing oyster reefs and many are engaged in oyster restoration activities through CBF’s partnership with the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishing Association.
How Reef Balls Are Made
2 – Set Oyster Spat on Reef Balls:
Once built, the reef balls will be cured and some set with oyster spat – juvenile oysters. CBF’s Maryland Oyster Restoration Center (ORC)is equipped with four 3,000 gallon oyster setting tanks and a custom-built oyster restoration vessel, the Patricia Campbell. CBF’s Virginia ORC is equipped with six 800-gallon oyster setting tanks and a custom-built, oyster restoration vessel the Chesapeake Gold. Both vessels are rigged with a crane capable of moving the reef balls in and out of setting tanks and on and off the boat deck into the Chesapeake Bay. CBF utilizes its setting tanks to set oyster spat on the reef balls by loading the reef balls into the tanks, which are filled with Bay water. The water is corrected for salinity and temperature, and hatchery-produced oyster larvae are added from the University of Maryland’s Horn Point Hatchery. Volunteers are involved in the oyster setting process by releasing the larvae into the setting tanks, collecting salinity, dissolved oxygen, and temperature data on the tanks. After approximately two weeks, the larvae have set and become established on the reef balls as juvenile oysters.
3 – Transplant Reef Balls:
Reef balls are removed from the tanks using the cranes on the Patricia Campbell and Chesapeake Gold with help from volunteers. And then the reef balls are transported and planted onto sites within the Chesapeake Bay watershed using the cranes. Reef balls have proven to be extremely effective when planted with spat-on-shell in oyster sanctuaries, as they provide immediate three-dimensional reef habitat and are a critical poaching deterrent.
4 – Create oyster reefs:
Oysters grow on the reef balls, creating three-dimensional habitat for fish, crabs, and other Bay critters.
The Orvis Company is partnering with its customers to help Chesapeake Bay Foundation in its efforts to restore a healthy oyster population in the Chesapeake. Orvis will match every donation dollar for dollar up to $30,000 for a total contribution of $60,000.
To help, send your check to: