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The Oyster Recovery Partnership is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that designs, promotes and implements consensus-based and scientifically-sustainable shellfish ecological restoration, aquaculture and commercial fishery activities to improve the environment and expand economic opportunities in the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays and beyond.
To have a self-sustaining oyster population for ecological and economic purposes that is characterized by a well-managed and growing commercial fishery and aquaculture industry in the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays and beyond.
ORP believes that shellfish are critical to reversing the Chesapeake Bay’s poor water quality and declining habitats. Given oysters’ critical ecologic role and keystone status in the Bay, oyster restoration and aquaculture are two of only a few strategies that provide restorative benefits to the Bay while also providing green jobs.
ORP recognizes that ultimately its job is about people – everyone can benefit from a restored oyster population.
The Bay oyster industry was the envy of the world until the oyster stock collapsed nearly 50 years ago because of disease, habitat loss, declining water quality and historic over-harvesting.
In the summer of 1993, the state of Maryland convened the Oyster Roundtable — a coalition of 40 organizations, institutions, elected officials, businesses and individuals — to address the major concerns about oyster stocks in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay and formulate a plan for promoting recovery. Roundtable members reached a consensus and published an Action Plan for Oyster Recovery in Maryland. One outcome of the plan was the creation of ORP.
In 1994 ORP was established to build and strengthen cooperative oyster restoration efforts among state and federal governmental agencies, scientists, watermen and conservation organizations, resulting in a coordinated, focused, large-scale restoration program.
ORP works with individual experts and management agencies, to assist with the monumental task of oyster restoration, monitoring and adaptive management. This would not be possible without the expert scientists from the University of Maryland Horn Point Hatchery, who have substantially increased oyster hatchery capabilities year after year.
In 2009, the Oyster Advisory Commission — a group of 21 scientists, watermen, anglers, businessmen, economists, environmental advocates and elected officials — was convened to advise the state on strategies related to rebuilding and managing the oyster population in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay. Building on past restoration knowledge and success, this group released its 2008 Legislative Report to offer a multi-faceted strategy for restoring the Bay’s native oyster population and revitalizing Maryland’s troubled oyster industry.