(Annapolis, Md) - The Manokin River in Somerset County has been recommended for a large scale oyster restoration. The Department of Natural Resources made the announcement Wednesday, September 5, 2018. The plan needs to be approved by NOAA and the U.S. Corps of Engineers before a management plan can be finalized and the work can begin. Poor dissolved oxygen levels and lack of suitable bottom were also factors in recommending the Manokin.

"Following an in-depth review and scientific study of Breton Bay, the department had to shift its focus to another tributary that would fulfill the state's commitment to large-scale oyster restoration," Maryland Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. "We believe that the Manokin River - an area situated to provide for natural, robust and self-sustaining oyster recruitment and reproduction - provides the best possible site for large-scale restoration success."

Working with the Interagency Oyster Restoration Workgroup, Oyster Advisory Commission, county oyster committees and other partners, the department will restore the tributary using state funds. The restoration work would occur in deep water to avoid any public safety and navigation hazard to anglers, boaters, and commercial watermen. The department will engage local watermen in field work, plantings, and surveying.

If selected, the Manokin will join Harris Creek, Little Choptank, Tred Avon, and Upper St. Mary's as the state's large-scale oyster restoration tributaries. The Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement set a goal of restoring oyster reefs and populations in 10 Chesapeake Bay rivers - five in Maryland and five in Virginia - by 2025.

Along with its restoration selections, the state is also moving forward with studying and surveying existing state oyster sanctuaries in Anne Arundel County, including the Severn River Sanctuary, where 40 million oysters spat were planted in 2018 using state funds, as well as 5 million using private funds. Additionally, the department has pledged to work with partners, including the South River Federation and Magothy River Association, to maximize restoration potential in those Anne Arundel County tributaries.