By Timothy B. Wheeler, Bay Journal News Service
Some Southern Marylanders refuse to give up on bringing oysters back to their local waters. On Sept. 10, volunteers teamed up to plant an estimated 1 million juvenile oysters, or spat, on a sanctuary reef in Breton Bay, an offshoot of the Potomac River in St. Mary’s County.
Breton Bay once hosted a dozen shucking houses and seafood-processing businesses, but over the decades overfishing, pollution and disease took their toll. In 2018, the state Department of Natural Resources briefly considered Breton Bay as one of five Chesapeake Bay tributaries in Maryland to undergo large-scale reef restoration. But DNR dropped Breton Bay in favor of the Manokin River on the Eastern Shore after surveys found no oysters, living or dead, on Breton’s bottom.
Undeterred, the Friends of St. Clements Bay, a neighboring embayment, have plugged away the past several years, annually planting batches of oysters in the Breton…