The Building Conservation Trust (BCT) is proud to announce that it will host an Oyster Summit on April 27-28 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Summit will convene leading experts and stakeholders from across sectors and across the nation to compare notes and best practices for oyster habitat restoration in an endeavor to improve conservation of this keystone ecosystem species.
“If you were going to build a productive estuary from the ground up, you’d start with oysters,” said Kevin O’Donovan, BCT board member. “So as conservationists, we have to find the most effective methods for restoring them because so much depends on them. It may be that different techniques are more effective in different regions, so let’s pool resources and knowledge to build a restoration playbook that can benefit everyone’s efforts.”
Oyster reefs were once a dominant feature along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, but over-harvesting and disease have reduced the reefs to little of their historic coverage. As filter feeders, oysters improve water quality and it has been estimated that oysters were once able to filter all the water in the Chesapeake Bay in about a week. It now takes the current oyster population about a year to filter the same amount of water.
Additionally, oyster reefs are the foundation of healthy bays and estuaries, providing food and habitat for birds, fish and shellfish. The reefs also buffer coastlines from waves and support the growth of essential coastal vegetation like marshes and seagrass beds.
“There are hundreds of ways that people enjoy eating oysters and everyone has their favorite recipe,” said Sean Stone, Executive Director of BCT, the national habitat program of Coastal Conservation Association. “We are gathering the top experts in the business to compare recipes on the best way to build oyster reefs and restore them in their natural habitat so that we can continue to enjoy them and still have plenty to perform their critical role in the marine environment.”
The Summit will begin on the evening of Wednesday, April 27 with a reception at the University of Maryland’s Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET). The full day schedule on April 28 includes keynote speakers and panels on the science and logistics of restoration, state level involvementand funding/development for restoration projects.
For immediate information, please contact Sean Stone at sstone@buildingconservation. On Dec. 1 check BCT’s website for complete details and hotel information, www.buildingconservation.org.