It’s February, which means ORP is actively preparing for the 2016 oyster season.

Our field crew in Cambridge is undergoing safety training, repairing equipment and making sure everything is ready for shell washing to begin in the coming weeks. Staff and partners are identifying bars for restoration and surveying them prior to planting.

Concurrently, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has met with county oyster committees to establish how many oysters and how much shell is needed on the public oyster bars. ORP will coordinate the logistics of these seed and shell plantings in conjunction with restoration work in the designated tributaries. Work is scheduled to begin in April.

But that’s not all! On a daily basis used oyster shell is being collected and recycled from 300 area Shell Recycling Alliance partners.

Did you know that over 26,000 bushels of shell were collected in 2015?

That’s equivalent to the weight of 70 school buses!


Surveys and post-season analyses are being conducted in preparation for this year’s Remote Setting and Training Program. Oyster outreach is in full force, and each week ORP participates in local community events and festivals – collecting oyster shell for future restoration projects, staffing information tables or having our mascot Shelly interact with event attendees. We’re also lining up the year’s educational programming for schools, camps, scout troops and clubs. Click below to get involved! 


Not able to attend? Follow the fun on Instagram.



Oysters Through the Eras 

Oysters have been celebrated throughout history for protecting our water, our heritage and our economy. Here’s a look back at some of the key moments in the Chesapeake Bay oyster’s evolution:



Oyster BMP Expert Panel 

Want to follow the Oyster Best Management Practice (BMP) Expert Panel’s activities and progress?  You can now check out the Panel’s milestones and planned updates on ORP’s water quality improvement webpage.

On February 8, 2016, the Panel updated the Chesapeake Bay Program on the draft Oyster BMP Nutrient and Suspended Sediment Reduction Effectiveness Decision Framework during the Water Quality Goal Implementation Team meeting.  This decision framework is being developed to help determine the nutrient and suspended sediment reduction effectiveness of oyster practices based on available science and their potential use as BMPs to meet the water quality goals established in the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (a.k.a., pollution clean-up plan). 

The Panel’s presentation and briefing materials can be found here.




Electronic Reporting

On January 1, 2016, ORP helped the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and other partners launch an upgrade to the daily E-Reporting system to include finfish reporting for more than 50 species, in addition to blue crab reporting.  This upgrade was featured at the E-Reporting booth during the Maryland Watermen’s Association 42nd Annual Trade Show in Ocean City, Maryland where attendees were able to sign up and get on the spot training.  This upgrade moves the system closer to being a one-stop site for watermen to daily report all their commercial harvest for all the fisheries they fish in.

Interested in learning more?  Check out the Maryland Department of Natural Resources E-Reporting website.


Oyster Facts 

The oyster is a highly evolved organism having well developed systems for digestion, circulation, respiration, response to stimuli and reproduction. Below is a semidiagrammatic sketch of an oyster, disected in the left valve. Can you identify all the parts? Answers: HERE.

State of Maryland Board of Natural Resources, THE OYSTER, Educational Series, No. 7 (1945)

Shell Recycling Alliance Feature Member

Chef Spike Gjerde is one of ORP’s biggest advocates, and an original Shell Recycling Alliance member. Over the last three years his restaurant, Woodberry Kitchen, has embraced our mission and recycled over 2,100 bushels of oyster shell. One of Chef Gjerde’s latest initiatives is a powerful concoction called Snake Oil, a fish pepper hot sauce that compliments seafood. It really packs a punch. Stop by Woodberry Kitchen or call: 410-464-8000 for more info.


Oyster Swag

Now you can wear your passion for protecting and restoring the Chesapeake Bay! Check out ORP’s online store, and feel good knowing that proceeds support local oyster restoration efforts.


How to Make Maryland Oyster Chowder  

Photo credit: Stacy Zarin-Goldberg

Recipe Difficulty Level: 2 stars
On the Clock: 1 hour
Servings: 6



2 tablespoons butter
1 cup diced yellow onions
1 cup diced celery
½ cup diced carrots
1 cup dry white wine
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 sprig Italian parsley
1 cup fish stock (or oyster juice)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 cups diced potatoes, preferably Yukon gold or red bliss (to prevent oxidization, diced potatoes can be held submerged in cold water until ready to use)
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1 pint shucked oysters, including any liquid they are packed in
Salt and pepper to taste (about 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup chopped Italian parsley



  1. Heat a one-gallon soup pot over medium heat. Melt the butter in the pot, and add the onions, celery and carrots with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes. If the vegetables start to brown on the bottom of the pot, add a few drops of water to loosen them.
  1. Add the wine and garlic. Tie the thyme, bay leaf and parsley together with twine and add to the pot. Continue cooking over medium heat until the liquid has almost evaporated.
  1. Add the fish stock, cream, milk, potatoes and Old Bay. More fish stock or milk can be added as needed. Raise the heat to high to bring to just below boiling, then reduce to medium and cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  1. Pour in the oysters then simmer on low heat for three minutes, until the edges of the oysters start to ruffle. Adjust seasoning and acidity with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
  1. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with oyster crackers. Recycle the oyster shell. 



Limited Edition Pride of Baltimore II Oyster Knives 

There is a limited number of commemorative oyster knives remaining! Last Fall ORP and Pride of Baltimore Inc. partnered to commission Baltimore master woodworker, Dale German, to create limited edition oyster knives made from the wood used to build the iconic tall ship Pride of Baltimore II

The design is a classic symbol of Chesapeake Bay culture that is practical for everyday use. The fundraiser salutes Maryland’s oyster heritage while continuing work to preserve the traditions of the Bay.

Proceeds from the sales support ORP and Pride of Baltimore, Inc. For more information on the project or to reserve your knife today, click HERE.