Rehoboth Beach, Del. — The public is invited to join the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays’ upcoming Citizens Advisory Committee – Citizens Café on Thursday, August 5, to learn about oysters, aquaculture and shellfish restoration efforts in the Inland Bays.
The meeting will be held at the Center’s office at 39375 Inlet Road in Delaware Seashore State Park starting at 6 p.m. The meeting will also be available virtually through Zoom. Pre-registration is required (for both in-person and virtual attendees) by signing up at tinyurl.com/AugustCAC.
American oysters are an iconic species along the East Coast, one that was once plentiful in Delaware waters. But historically, diseases and water quality problems have all but eliminated them from the Inland Bays. Now, thanks to multiple restoration efforts and programs, oysters are once again growing in the Bays.
Experts from the Center and the state will share the latest information on the challenges and success of growing oysters in the Bays, and explain why oysters are so important to these valuable coastal ecosystems.
Zina Hense, an environmental scientist with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, will explore the history of shellfish aquaculture in the Inland Bays and the current status of the Inland Bays’ Shellfish Aquaculture Program.
On a smaller scale, the Center has been working since 2003 with local residents to raise small amounts of oysters along docks and bulkheads in the Inland Bays through its Oyster Gardening Program. Project Manager Nivette Pérez-Pérez will give an overview of the program, what it takes to become a gardener and why oyster gardening is important to the health of the Bays.
Oysters are not only important for water quality because they filter water as they feed, but they also fuse together and form structures that provide habitat for valuable species like blue crabs and flounder, she explained.
“Oysters are an iconic species and an intrinsic part of the story of the Bays, one that we lost and are trying to bring back,” Pérez-Pérez said. “The Oyster Gardening Program and our gardeners are giving them a head start by taking care of them when they are most vulnerable.”
The Center is actively recruiting people to participate in the Oyster Gardening Program, in an effort to expand the program to every corner of the Inland Bays. To learn more or to sign up, go to inlandbays.org/oyster-
More details about the Citizens Advisory Committee and the August 5 meeting can be found online at inlandbays.org/citizens-
The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays is a nonprofit organization established in 1994, and is one of 28 National Estuary Programs. With its many partners, the Center works to preserve, protect and restore Delaware’s Inland Bays and their watershed.
The Citizen Advisory Committee’s key role is to bring public concerns related to the protection of the Inland Bays and the watershed to the attention of the Center’s Board of Directors. Quarterly Citizen Café meetings offer the public a chance to engage with the Committee and Center representatives and learn more about the Inland Bays watershed.