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Friday, April 17, 2015

17/04/2015: Oyster aquaculture preserves waterways in Maryland, US

We will always wonder who pulled the first oyster out of the river, jimmied open the shell with a rock and had the fortitude to slurp down the watery, gelatinous mollusk inside, The Kent County News reports.

Besides brave, he or she also must have been quite the ancient equivalent of a salesperson for convincing others in the tribe to sample oysters as well. There are still plenty of people around who will not give these delicious specimens a chance. Oh well, all the more for us.

http://www.myeasternshoremd.com/news/kent_county/article_71ed37f9-9563-59e7-b728-b46d91fd0f06.html

Our love of oysters — raw, fried, frittered, etc. — has us very excited for a growing breed of business in Kent County. Scott Budden, Kent County High School Class of 2003, is working on the launch of Orchard Point Oyster Co., an aquaculture operation to be located off Eastern Neck Island.

He plans to start at a site up the Chester River near the mouth of Church Creek this May, before moving down toward Eastern Neck Island next year. With the first crop, batch or bevy of oysters expected this winter, we eagerly anticipate getting our hands on some of Orchard Point's first bivalves.

Mr Budden ran into some issues in planning his operation. Owners of a farm near the Church Creek site complained he would interfere with their waterfowl hunting operations. Watermen raised concerns that Mr Budden's business would inhibit crabbing on the Chester River. Thankfully, through mediation, all parties came to a sensible agreement, keeping Orchard Point in Kent County.

"Compromises were made all around, in the interest of hunting, the oyster farm and commercial fishing," Mr Budden said in an April 2 interview.

Aquaculture is not new. The state granted leases for such operations back in the 1800s, according to the Department of Natural Resources website. With renewed interest in the last decade, the DNR and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started to accept new aquaculture applications in 2010, the website states.

Orchard Point, Barren Island Oysters, Hooper's Island Oyster Aquaculture Co. and the nearly 70 other aquaculture operations the DNR counted in Maryland add to the bounty of our local waterways, while improving the water itself.

"(Aquaculture) is critical to the environment and to the cultures that were grown around these oysters," said Johnny Shockley, founder of Hooper's Island Oyster Aquaculture, in an interview earlier this year.

"It's essential that we re-establish oysters for ecological and economic reasons."

Read more HERE.


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