NZ winery pledges support for Chesapeake oyster project

Marlborough-based winery Wither Hills has said it will make a one-off donation to the Oyster Recovery Partnership in Chesapeake Bay.

The winery will make donation to kick start the Oyster Recovery Partnership, a non-profit organisation in Maryland that is seeking to reintroduce one million oysters to the Chesapeake on the East Coast of the US.

The Chesapeake Bay is a major estuary on the eastern seaboard of the US, its basin draining more than 150 rivers including the Potomac, Susquehanna, Rappahannock and James and various smaller streams into the Atlantic Ocean.

Over 200 miles long it is split between two states, Maryland to the north and Virginia to the south. It is an extremely important ecological area, supporting an abundance of marine and bird life and it is of huge importance to the economy of both states as well; providing fishing, tourism and recreation.

In recent decades its bounty of crabs and oysters have been severely depleted however and various projects and initiatives are now in place to improve the health of the waters, which have improved greatly since 2015 according to the University of Maryland.

Wither Hills has its own sustainability programme in New Zealand that covers water conservation, energy efficiency, composting and waste reduction and the winery was part of a pilot scheme to develop the country’s Sustainable Winegrowing certification.

It won the Habitat Enhancement Award at the Marlborough Environmental Awards in 2010/11 for its work on conserving the Rarangi Wetlands.

Kate McManus, vice president of marketing at Wither Hills’ US agency, Distinguished Vineyards & Wine Partners, said: “The Wither Hills team’s commitment to sustainability runs deep. They believe in being good stewards of their vineyards, good neighbours, and positive forces in their communities and beyond.

“The opportunity to support the Oyster Recovery Partnership was exciting to everyone at Wither Hills, as their mission is of critical importance at a time when we all need to come together to protect the health of our ecosystems throughout the world.”

Paul Schurick, director of partnerships for Oyster Recovery Partnership, added:  “We rely greatly on eco-minded companies like Wither Hills to help provide funding and resources for our important and ongoing work to rebuild oyster populations in the Chesapeake Bay.

“We are grateful for their support, and also their efforts to bring increased awareness to oyster recovery efforts and Bay health issues.”

This is not the only initiative concerning oysters that a drinks company is championing. Scotch producer Glenmorangie has been supporting an oyster-reintroduction project in the Dornoch Firth, which is part of a Europe-wide push to re-establish large scale oyster reefs from the North Sea to the Adriatic.

One Response to “NZ winery pledges support for Chesapeake oyster project”

  1. Kerry Allen Willis says:

    Oyster beds die in a few years unless there are Oystermen to work them and revitalize them. Unless there is also a plan to restore the men who used to work the beds and keep them active and alive, the new beds established die naturally as the life of an oyster is very short and requires for the removal of older oysters for the new ones to keep the bed growing and vibrant.

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