By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Chesapeake Bay is huge, and to bring it back to full health takes huge effort.

That now includes a plan, hatched by The Chesapeake Bay 10 Billion Oysters Partnership, to plant 10 billion new oysters in the bay by 2025.

According to Chesapeake Bay Foundation president Will Baker, “acceleration of oyster abundance will be critical to making the bay continue to get better, to actually save the bay.”

Oysters do it by filtering out nutrients and leaving cleaner water behind.

Twenty groups ranging from universities to businesses that grow oysters are joining together to up the oyster population both in Maryland and Virginia.

They raise baby oysters called spat in labs, then attach them to recycled oyster shells and place them in reefs in the bay. They put out 2 billion spat a year in that manner.

“You will get not only a large number,” says Dr. Donald Boesch with the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science. “Ten, fifteen, twenty percent of those spat will survive, and they will of course grow and spawn and reproduce and grow more oysters.”

For aquaculture businesses, growing oysters to sell makes money, jobs and more clean water.

According to Johnny Shockley, who started up Hoopers Island Oyster Company, “the seafood industry needs a viable oyster industry in order to survive.”

Since not all will survive, it will take more than 10 billion spat to grow into 10 billion adult oysters, but the technology to ramp things up is growing.

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