Norfolk – As part of the Virginia Port Authority's (VPA) ongoing effort to help keep the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries healthy, the Virginia Port Authority on Saturday, Aug. 20, will donate $25,000 to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's (CBF) oyster gardening program.
"Oysters are a critical part of the Bay's ecosystem and we're going to help lead the effort in Hampton Roads to bring them back," said Heather Wood, the VPA's director of environmental affairs. "Oysters and water quality go hand-in-hand, so it only makes sense to support the work of developing healthy oyster reefs in our local waterways."
The VPA has been a long-time supporter of CBF and chose to make this investment in the oyster gardening/restoration program in recognition of the positive impact these efforts have on water quality and marine habitat in Hampton Roads. The Bay's oyster populations have declined drastically over the past decades and one way to restore the shellfish is by training citizen oyster gardeners throughout Southeastern Virginia to nurture baby oysters for a year until they are big enough to be planted on sanctuary reefs.
A single adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water daily, so boosting the oyster population is essential for improving the health of Hampton Roads waterways, CBF officials said. Since 1998 CBF, volunteers and other organizations have added nearly 40 million oysters to Virginia waterways, including 8 million last year.
On Saturday, following the check presentation ceremony, volunteer oyster gardeners will bring thousands of mature oysters they have nurtured from seed over the past year to an "oyster roundup." Bushel baskets of oysters will be loaded onto CBF's skiff – Bay Oyster -- and VPA officials along with CBF oyster gardeners and staff, will ride out to a sanctuary reef on the Lafayette River near the Hampton Boulevard Bridge and stock the reef with the tiny bivalves.