Grant Aimed at Restoring Oysters to St. Mary's River

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Grant Aimed at Restoring Oysters to St. Mary's River

St. Mary's City, MD - 12/10/2012

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By Dick Myers

Dr. Robert Paul and SMCM President Joseph Urgo pose with the principals of Shore Thing Shellfish
Dr. Robert Paul and SMCM President Joseph Urgo pose with the principals of Shore Thing Shellfish

 A grant for a new collaborative initiative to help restore oysters in the St. Mary’s River was announced Friday. The $89,500 grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources through the Maryland Industrial Partnership (MIPS) will go to St. Mary’s College of Maryland and a new startup local company, Shore Thing Shellfish.

The grant was announced at an event at the Glendenning Annex at the college. The project will explore the commercialization of alternative technology to traditional oyster setting methods.

At the grant announcement St., Mary’s College Professor Dr. Robert Paul called the water quality of the river “impaired.” He said the river in many respects is a microcosm of the entire Chesapeake Bay estuary. A return of the oyster population would be a positive for the Bay because oysters act as a water quality filtering mechanism.

According to a press release announcing the event: “Partners anticipate that once the technology is introduced to the market, it will not only be beneficial to Maryland’s oyster restoration and water quality improvement effort, but also beneficial to lease holders in the state’s waters who have shellfish planting requirements by the state.”

St. Mary’s College President Dr. Joseph Urgo emphasized the importance of the river to the college. He said, “It inspires poets, artists and philosophers.”

Kevin Boyle, one of the four principals of Shore Thing Shellfish, said the project begins with an aquaculture project on land in which oyster spat are grown in tanks. The tanks are then transported and dropped into the river. Eventually the tank shell is removed when the oysters are able to survive.

Shore Thing Shellfish was established in 2011 by Boyle, Brian Russell and Mandy Burch, all St. Mary’s College graduates, and Sheldon Russell, a commercial waterman. Their goal, according to their website is “growing quality sustainable oysters using the most environmentally friendly practice possible. We are carrying on Maryland’s traditional watermen’s heritage, yet making it sustainable.”

According to the website of MIPS,, “Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program accelerates the commercialization of technology in Maryland by jointly funding collaborative R&D projects between companies and University System of Maryland faculty.

“MIPS provides funding, matched by participating companies, for university-based research projects that help companies develop new products. MIPS projects help companies find solutions to technical challenges, as well as develop products, processes or training materials. MIPS projects are conducted by university faculty and graduate students in conjunction with company researchers.

“With more than 400 Maryland companies participating in project awards since 1987, worth over $160 million—MIPS projects create results. MIPS-supported products have generated more than $21.6 billion in sales, added jobs to the region, and infused state-of-the-art technology into the global marketplace.”

At the grant announcement, MIPS Director Martha Connolly credited Del. John Bohanan (D” 29B) with encouraging MIPS to extend its programs from just the University of Maryland to all of Maryland’s state supported colleges, including St. Mary’s College of Maryland. And President Urgo also praised Bohanan for his role in helping to restore the St. Mary’s River.

After the remarks, pictures were taken with the partnership participants and a large mock check representing the receipt of the grant

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