Since the early 1990s, efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay’s devastated oyster stocks have focused on the construction of small (∼2 ha.) intertidal shell reefs designed to mimic historic 3-dimensional reef habitat. The reefs are managed as oyster sanctuaries to allow adult oysters to accumulate, grow, and spawn over time. To enhance the effectiveness of this strategy, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation initiated a, program in 1997 to train students and volunteers to grow large numbers of hatchery-produced oysters for stocking sanctuary reefs in selected tributaries. In 1998, a significant increase in spat settlement was documented in the Lynnhaven River, a small tributary where volunteer-grown oysters were transplanted onto a sanctuary reef, providing further direction for restoration efforts. Since then, the program has expanded to include more than 500 citizens and 120 school classes on a Bay wide scale. This paper describes the strategy for restoring oysters in two small Virginia tributaries using volunteers, specifically middle and, high school students, to grow broods-tock (i.e., reproductively mature) oysters for transplanting onto state-managed sanctuary reefs using small-scale aquaculture techniques. To date, volunteers enlisted in a program dubbed the Chesapeake Bay Foundation “Oyster Corps” have grown and stocked more than 250,000 hatchery-produced oysters in Virginia’s portion of Chesapeake Bay. Small scale aquaculture techniques have provided a simple, yet effective, means of involving the public in a restoration effort designed to increase oysters by a factor of 10 by the year 2010.
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