Weekend Event To Highlight Oyster Recovery Partnership’s Gains

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OCEAN CITY – The love of oysters will be shared at this weekend’s Oyster Garden event at Fager’s Island for all to attend.

For 20 years, Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) has been a facilitator and implementer of all major oyster restoration activities for Maryland and has become the leading non-profit in restoring oysters in the bay.

ORP restoration efforts have planted nearly five billion oysters in 1,600 acres in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. ORP also founded the Shell Recycling Alliance (SRA), which has recycled nearly 30,000 bushels of shell to provide homes to hatchery-raised oysters

In support of ORP, Fager’s Island is hosting an Oyster Garden event on Saturday, February 15th, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Representatives from five local companies, Bay Landing Shellfish Co., War Shore Oyster Co., Hollywood Oyster Co., Toby Island Oyster Co, and Hooper’s Island Oyster Aquaculture Co.,  cultivating and raising oyster beds will be on hand to shuck their oysters and tell their stories.

“It’s great that Fager’s is putting on this event. It’s a great destination and run by some great people who care about Maryland waters,” said John Apple, owner of Bay Landing Shellfish Co. “What the ORP is doing is revitalizing an ancient industry in Maryland by slowly but surely bringing back oyster populations. This not only helps nourish the bays and sea life in Maryland, but it’s also creating jobs … all in all the oyster recovery is pumping Maryland full of positivity on all fronts. The number of people at the Fager’s event will show how much the community cares about their state and local eco system.”

The ORP will also be on the scene to talk about Maryland’s efforts to restore its waterways, the importance of recycling used oyster shells and the training programs that are helping local aquaculture enterprises.

Bryan Gomes, ORP manager of Special Programs and the Shell Recycling Alliance (SRA), shared some interesting facts that will be expanded upon at the event, such as each adult oyster filters on average 50 gallons of water a day, and create important habitat for other important marine life, including the blue crab and striped bass.

Also, for every half shell a person or restaurant recycles, an average of 10 baby oysters are seeded back to that shell at the Horn Point Lab Oyster Hatchery in Cambridge and planted back in our local waterways. Of the 14,000 bushels the Delmarva area recycled in 2013, about 1,000 bushels came from the Maryland/Delaware beaches. This is enough shell to produce five million baby oysters, a bulk that will be planted in the Chesapeake Bay watershed with some being grown by local residents along the coastal bay watershed through the Marylanders Grow Oysters program.

“ORP and the Horn Point Hatchery hit a milestone last planting season and put over one billion oysters back in the Bay’s watershed in 2013,” Gomes said.

Gomes furthered, in addition to the 16 restaurants in the SRA at the Maryland and Delaware beaches, Fager’s being one of those restaurants, ORP there is a public drop site for people to drop shells at 104 66th Street Shell Depot.

“I’m excited for this event to bring together a handful of oyster growers, and all in the name of oyster restoration,” Gomes said. “I’m looking forward to educating guests on the important work these little guys do in our local waterways.”

The Local Oyster, a traveling oyster bar, and Chef Leo D’Aleo from the Atlantic Hotel will also be attending the Oyster Garden event to prepare a variety of roasted oysters to compliment the oysters being served raw.

“I am thrilled to be working with the great folks at Fager’s Island and equally excited that they are raising money for the ORP. The Local Oyster has been a member of the ORP since last September, recycling all of our shell to help replenish the natural Oyster Beds throughout the Chesapeake Bay,” Nick Schauman of Local Oyster said. “I am most looking forward to meeting all of the farmers in attendance and learning about the different techniques they use to grow their oysters. I am also looking forward to all the smiling faces after they taste our creations.”

The Local Oyster is based in Baltimore but caters events all throughout the region, including Ocean City, and serves only local farm raised oysters because they are sustainable and good for the local environment and economy, Schauman submitted.

Flying Dog Brewery will be on hand featuring its Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout that is a traditional dry stout brewed with Rappahannock River Oysters, and for every bottle of Pearl Necklace sold ORP plants 10 oysters into the bay totaling over one million to date.

Evolution Craft Brewing (EVO) will also be in attendance with its Incubator Oyster stout, made with Sewansecott Oysters.

Fager’s Island will add in BBQ ribs and chicken and Opposite Directions will be providing live entertainment.

It is $30 per ticket, with $5 of each ticket being donated to ORP, for all you can eat and unlimited beer samples from Flying Dog and EVO. Tickets are available online at www.fagers.com or at the main bar at Fager’s Island on 60th Street.

To learn more about ORP and how to get involved, go to www.oysterrecovery.org.

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