Oyster Aquaculture in the Potomac River

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Last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) released a study on water quality in the Potomac River, and the impact oyster aquaculture could have on the watershed. Published in Aquatic Geochemistry, the study stated that the nitrogen in the Potomac River estuary could be removed if 40% of the river bed was covered in oyster reefs, or used to grow oysters. (An adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons per day). The Potomac River was once a place where oysters thrived, however, the same issues seen in the Chesapeake Bay- disease, overharvesting and eutrophication- significantly reduced the amount of oysters from in the tributary.

There are already ongoing projects, working on restoring oysters to the Potomac River. However, these efforts are running into roadblocks. The Baltimore Sun had a piece today on a proposed marina in Charles County, Maryland, which, when developed, will likely pollute a preexisting oyster bar. Although the oyster bar has been producing significantly low numbers of oysters in the past few decades, the bar is part of recent restoration efforts in Maryland.

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