FWS Maryland

HabNet Coalition

Coastal Program Highlights

Supporting Chesapeake Bay watermen and oyster conservation in Maryland

Maryland | 2016

The Harris Seafood Company, Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, and Coastal Program are working with the local watermen to build new oyster reefs. The commercial benefit of these beds is obvious – more oysters to harvest. Oysters also filter pollutants from water, up to 50 gallons each day, and provide habitat for fish, crabs, and waterbirds. 

When the environmental center was looking for a new source of funding, it came up with the idea to commercially grow oysters and applied for an oyster lease. The Coastal Program helped to restore oyster reefs and habitats to create the ideal conditions to raise oysters. The seafood company had the spat (i.e., oyster babies) and agreed to bring the oysters to market. The watermen seeded the lease and agreed to harvest the oysters.


“Watermen and seafood businesses have a better understanding of their stewardship role and we are making things better.” 
— Jason Ruth, Owner of Harris Seafood Company


Cover Photo: Partners, USFWS
Inset Photo: (Top) Harris Seafood Company | (Bottom) Oyster reef, Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center