04-08-13: Marin IJ VA Marine Resources Comm. begins largest oyster replenishment program

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission will begin the largest oyster replenishment program in the state’s history. The $2 million effort will plant oyster shells on state-owned beds in the James, the York, the Rappahannock and other places in the bay to create habitats conducive to the nourishment of oysters. Gov. Bob McDonnell asked for the appropriation; the General Assembly approved his request. The 2013 assembly session proved an excellent one for the bay.

Recent years have reported gratifying news regarding the bay’s oysters, which are staging a comeback. Aquaculture is thriving in the bay and along its tributaries. Smart policies by the state and by private concerns contribute to the restoration. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has been an effective advocate for the bivalves. A healthy bay produces flourishing oyster populations; flourishing oyster populations promote the bay’s health.

Editorial: And so to beds

Posted: Monday, April 8, 2013 12:00 am

In “Consider the Oyster,” M.F.K Fisher wrote: “An oyster leads a dreadful but exciting life.” May and the succeeding months will see great excitement in the Chesapeake. The results will not be dreadful.

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission will begin the largest oyster replenishment program in the state’s history. The $2 million effort will plant oyster shells on state-owned beds in the James, the York, the Rappahannock and other places in the bay to create habitats conducive to the nourishment of oysters. Gov. Bob McDonnell asked for the appropriation; the General Assembly approved his request. The 2013 assembly session proved an excellent one for the bay.

After attaching themselves to the shells, oyster larvae will grow to market size in about three years. They then will delight gourmets in stews, pan roasts and other dishes. Oysters on the half shell remain the ultimate expression of the gastronomic arts.

Recent years have reported gratifying news regarding the bay’s oysters, which are staging a comeback. Aquaculture is thriving in the bay and along its tributaries. Smart policies by the state and by private concerns contribute to the restoration. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has been an effective advocate for the bivalves. A healthy bay produces flourishing oyster populations; flourishing oyster populations promote the bay’s health.

The editor of the Editorial Pages spent Easter weekend in Boston, where he enjoyed a late lunch at B&G Oysters, which offers a dozen different oysters at every seating. The Saturday lunch list included not only varieties from New England and the Canadian Maritimes (the Ninigrets from Rhode Island took honors, as they usually do) but also Chincoteagues. The dinner selections included oysters from the James. On March 31, Jax Fish House in Denver celebrated Oyster Month with a feast featuring oysters from Rappahannock River Oysters, whose owners, Ryan and Travis Croxton, attended the festivities. The cousins entertained diners with stories about their family trade. The good word has spread.

The VMRC initiative will build on a firm foundation. The seeding of the beds will put into motion one of the wonders of our world. Infant oysters are called spats, whose lives Fisher described in delicious prose:

“It is to be hoped, sentimentally at least, that the spat – our spat – enjoys himself. Those two weeks are his one taste of vagabondage, of devil-may-care free roaming. And even they are not quite free, for during all his youth he is busy growing a strong foot and a large supply of sticky cement-like stuff. If he thought, he might wonder why.”

We will take a dozen dressed with lemon and washed down with a Virginia white. And we wish we could add a B&G lobster roll and round out the meal with the eatery’s poached pear.

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