|Press Releases | Search DNR | DNR Home|
First Component of The Oyster Environmental Impact Statement Unveiled Today in Annapolis
Analysis Confirms Significant Cultural Meaning of Oyster to Chesapeake Bay Residents
ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) held the first in a series of public outreach events today of key findings from research, modeling and assessment projects being conducted to support the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on alternative oyster restoration approaches, including native and nonnative oysters, for the Chesapeake Bay. Today’s presentation on the cultural analysis component of the EIS was made by Dr. Michael Paolisso and Nicole Dery, both researchers at the University of Maryland. The overall message from the cultural analysis is that data confirm that the oyster carries significant cultural meaning to residents of the Chesapeake Bay region.
“We are committed to ensuring that the public has access to all of the information coming out of the EIS process,” said DNR Secretary C. Ronald Franks who gave the presentation’s opening remarks. “The EIS is an important component of Bay restoration and building consensus through these presentations will be key as we approach a decision on how to restore oysters to the Chesapeake.”
The cultural analysis sought to identify how various stakeholder groups understand, value and make judgments about oyster restoration strategies including options ranging from current restoration efforts with Crassostrea virginica (native oyster), to expanded aquaculture with C. virginica and/or a sterile C. ariakensis (nonnative Asian oyster), to the introduction of a reproductive C. ariakensis into the tidal waters of Maryland and Virginia.
The stakeholder groups targeted by the study included scientists directly involved with Bay ecology; resource managers; area environmentalists; watermen; recreational (fishing and boating) users of the Chesapeake Bay; and the seafood-eating public. The researchers employed a variety of data collection methods, ranging from interviews to agreement questionnaires, and a variety of data analyses, including consensus analysis.
Some of the key findings of the cultural analysis presented today were:
- There is high variability in the cultural knowledge respondents are drawing upon to form perspectives and positions vis-à-vis oysters, native versus non-native, aquaculture and oyster restoration in general.
- A number of important cultural dimensions related to restoration of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay exists both for native and non-native oysters.
- There are varying meanings in the definition of what restoration means with strong differences between public, scientific and commercial watermen perspectives.
- There is widespread agreement across study groups that both improved ecology and a viable oyster industry are important goals of oyster restoration, with slightly greater agreement for its primacy of ecological restoration.
- There was general agreement across study groups that current native oyster restoration efforts are not working and new approaches need to be evaluated.
- There exists a significant amount of ambivalence about what to do about restoring oysters to the Chesapeake Bay, however, there is widespread recognition that we need to change restoration approaches.
- The economic and social importance of harvests of oysters in terms of watermen household and community impacts is much greater than is captured by aggregated harvest data.
- Oystering remains a critical occupation for watermen that helps to sustain their families in terms of their identity and cultural beliefs and practices, and provides small but important amounts of money to help tie watermen families over until summer crabbing.
- There was a widespread view that something would be lost if there were not oysters in the Bay for harvest from public bottom.
The cultural analysis findings presented today will be integrated with the ecological and economic analyses that are scheduled to will be completed later this year. This will allow for a broader discussion on the cultural risks and benefits across stakeholder groups on the oyster restoration alternatives being evaluated in the EIS.
The State of Maryland, Commonwealth of Virginia and Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District are preparing an EIS to evaluate oyster restoration alternatives, including an introduction of a nonnative oyster and various native oyster restoration alternatives. The cultural analysis and today’s PowerPoint presentation can be found in its entirety at http://www.dnr.state.md.us/dnrnews/infocus/oysters.asp.
The next presentation will be on the Ecosystem Impact Model on Aug. 12 from 12 to 1 p.m. in the C-1 conference room of the Tawes State Office Building. This presentation will highlight the expected ecological benefits of oysters over a range of potential oyster population levels in the Bay.
July 28, 2005
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 18,000 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