The Crassostrea virginica population in the Chesapeake Bay is now % of what it was during the 19th century (Kimmel et al. 2007). This decline is the result of various harmful effects such as disease, nutrient pollution, acidification, hydrological change, habitat loss and over-harvesting (Ermgassen et al. 2013). The Eastern Oyster is particularly threatened by three threats, disease, acidification, and reduced water quality. C. virginicais negatively affected by these problems but is also capable of combating and/or mitigating these injuries toward the health and biodiversity of the Chesapeake Bay. The biodiversity of the bay is directly correlated with oyster populations; as oysters provide both oyster reef habitat and water filtration service to the bay, it is an especially effective species to curb the effects climate change, namely, acidification and species loss. In order to recuperate Eastern Oyster populations in the Bay, this recommendation proposes that Virginia expand its oyster sanctuary by 9,000 acres, matching Maryland’s sanctuary expansion in 2009. These ‘no-take’ sanctuaries are intended to bolster disease resistance, combat acidification, and maintain biodiversity within the bay. The costs of sanctuary establishment are minimal to none, however, if need be, the two possible funding sources are included below. The costs of the project are subject to the stability of Eastern Oyster sanctuary populations. Funds may be used if oyster sanctuaries require restoration efforts as outlined by the 2004 Chesapeake Bay Management Plan. The economic and ecological value returned to the region by healthy oyster reefs far surpasses the restoration costs in one to five years.

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Poster Session

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