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Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey And Virginia Meet To Discuss Nonnative Oyster Research
All states committed to restoring oyster populations in Delaware and Chesapeake Bays
ANNAPOLIS — In response to concerns over the environmental impact of potentially introducing a nonnative oyster species into the Chesapeake Bay, environmental officials from Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia met Friday to discuss the future of oyster management in Maryland and Virginia
During the course of open discussion and dialogue, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Associate Deputy Secretary William “Pete” P. Jensen and others briefed Delaware and New Jersey officials on the current status of the oyster Environmental Impact Statement currently underway. The EIS, which is evaluating eight alternatives, four of which focus on native restoration and one of which focuses on introducing a reproductive nonnative species, the Crassostrea ariakensis, to the Chesapeake Bay.
Delaware and New Jersey expressed their concerns over the potential adverse ecological effects associated with an introduction of a new oyster species. However, Maryland and Virginia officials reiterated they would not proceed with an introduction of a new oyster species if unacceptable risks are identified as a result of the EIS process. In addition, Maryland and Virginia emphasized their need to make decisions on native oyster restoration alternatives being considered in the EIS, in addition to considering the potential introduction of another oyster species.
Although Delaware and New Jersey environmental resource staff have previously expressed opposition to Maryland’s and Virginia’s proposal to introduce Asian oysters to the Chesapeake Bay, the four states representatives have agreed to await the outcome of the EIS process and the assessments that will be available this summer prior to making any judgments. Maryland and Virginia have also agreed to include officials and experts from Delaware and New Jersey in the technical committees responsible for reviewing the research, modeling and assessments of the EIS. Then, acting together, the four states reiterated the request that the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission convene meetings of the Interstate Shellfish Transport Committee (Maine to Florida) in recognition of potential coast-wide implications of this EIS.
"We appreciate Secretary Franks willingness to consider our concerns and we look forward to reviewing the reports when available," said Brad Campbell, New Jersey’s Commissioner of Environmental Protection.
At the end of the day all four states officials reaffirmed their commitment to continue efforts to restore native oyster populations in Delaware and Chesapeake Bays.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 446,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov