Sweet! Oysters Move into Domino Sugar Refinery

The Domino Sugar sign is one of the most iconic landmarks on the Baltimore waterfront, and the next time you see it, you’ll know there are baby oysters growing beneath.

Photo: ASR Group

The 96-year-old sugar refinery, owned by ASR Group, installed an oyster garden Wednesday off its Locust Point docks.

Domino Sugar employees built 50 wire cages on Earth Day back in the spring. Now, each of those cages is filled with dozens of oyster spat (oyster larvae attached to recycled shell). The cages will sit in the water at Domino’s piers, where the baby oysters will grow for several months. It’s up to refinery workers to take care of the babies, cleaning their cages periodically to help the water to flow in and out freely.

If all goes well, the oysters will be big enough to survive outside their cages by summer 2019, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation will take them to their forever home at a sanctuary reef off of Fort Carroll, near the Key Bridge.

“This is a great opportunity for Domino Sugar to use our waterfront location to help clean the waters of the Patapsco River,” said ASR Group’s Baltimore Refinery Manager Kelly DeAngelo. “It is our hope to double the number of oysters grown here next year.”

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Oyster Gardener program relies on residents and businesses to participate in making cages, planting oyster spat, and maintaining the cages until the oysters can graduate to a reef in the open water. Oyster restoration is key to the health of the Chesapeake Bay, because oysters serve as natural filters to clean the water.

ASR Group, the world’s largest cane sugar refiner, has made a series of recent sustainability upgrades at the South Baltimore facility, including a half-acre of new green space, 16 new trees, and a biofiltration system to clean stormwater before it runs into the harbor.

-Meg Walburn Viviano