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Governor Martin O’Malley, Bay Cabinet Tour Chincoteague Bay
Tour Highlights Local Economic & Environmental Benefits of Shellfish Aquaculture in Coastal Bays
OCEAN CITY, MD – Governor Martin O’Malley today, joined by Bay Cabinet members and Worcester County official, toured Chincoteague Bay, visiting a local oyster aquaculture business to explore and discuss the potential economic and environmental benefits of expanding Maryland’s aquaculture industry.
“We have yet to take full advantage of the renewed interest in shellfish aquaculture that offers a great economic and environmental restoration opportunity for our coastal bays,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “No time is better than the present to develop new, and expand established local businesses that can utilize renewable natural resources to create sustainable economic and cultural benefits.”
The tour began at the award-winning Great Eastern Chincoteague Shellfish Co., the only off-bottom, float shellfish aquaculture operation in Maryland’s coastal bays. The company primarily sells native oysters as “Snow Hill Oysters” to raw bars across the country, local restaurants and local farmers markets. The discussion with the company’s owners Luke Breza and David Chamberlain provided an opportunity to observe the businesses’ daily operations and importance to the local economy.
“We appreciate Governor O'Malley’s visit to our oyster farm to learn how local shellfish aquaculture is helping to resurrect the legendary Chincoteague Bay Oyster and improve water quality in our coastal bays. It’s great to see the state supporting one of the true potential growth spots in our rural economy,” said Luke Breza.
Maryland’s existing oyster aquaculture industry employees more than 30 people and generates up to $1 million for the state’s economy. Under Governor O’Malley’s leadership, the Maryland Department of Agriculture is working to implement aquaculture enterprise zones, which will help streamline the permit process in the Chesapeake and coastal bays, provide incentives to catalyze private investment in leasing operations and encourage commercial fishery experts to transition to aquaculture.
“Maryland has an outstanding reputation for high quality seafood. Oysters are critical to our economy, our environment and our State’s identity,” said Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Roger Richardson.
Recognizing aquaculture’s great potential to provide ecological benefits, while also seeking to reduce user conflicts, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources recently formed a Coastal Bays Aquaculture Development Workgroup, which is expected to recommend strategies to address the issues and opportunities associated with aquaculture in our Coastal Bays later this year.
“Aquaculture’s potential to increasing the number of oysters and clams living in the coastal bays could make a significant difference in the bays’ health,” added Secretary John R. Griffin. “Aquaculture also provides a unique opportunity to diversify business opportunities for our watermen and rural, resource-based seafood industries.”
In the 2007 legislative session, Governor O’Malley, together with the General Assembly, passed the Oyster Restoration Act to protect and restore the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay. To protect the Chesapeake Bay, its precious resources, and the environment, Governor O’Malley in his first two years in office also:
- Created the Chesapeake Bay 2010 Trust Fund to help restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
- Led efforts to improve the Chesapeake Bay, signing laws to improve stormwater management and require phosphorus-free detergent, and accepting regional Forest Conservation Agreement.
- Established BayStat to coordinate public, private, non-profit efforts to save the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
- Created the Climate Change Commission to develop an action plan to address climate change in Maryland and rising sea levels in the Chesapeake Bay.
- Fought for and signed into law the Clean Cars law to clean our air.
- Launched the EmPOWER Maryland Initiative, setting the most ambitious goal in the nation to decrease per capita energy consumption 15% by 2015.
- Fought sprawl and traffic by blocking the massive Four Seasons development on the Bay, fully funding Program Open Space and restoring Maryland’s leadership in Smart Growth.
- Joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, working with 9 other states to reduce emissions and fight global warming.
- Boosted renewable energy with a law making solar energy more affordable, and the Clean Energy Schools initiative to put solar panels on schools.
- Helped farmers protect the land by keeping farming profitable, investing a record $8 million in cover crop programs and tripled annual budget for MARBIDCO and agricultural innovation.
August 13, 2008
Contact: Olivia Campbell
410-260-8016 office I 410-507-7525 cell
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 449,000 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 12 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