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Oyster Advisory Commission Recommends Comprehensive Approach to Oyster Restoration in Maryland
Governor O’Malley vows to translate Commission’s work into action
Annapolis, Md. (February 6, 2009) — In its 2008 Legislative Report released this week, the Maryland Oyster Advisory Commission (OAC) offered a multi-faceted strategy for restoring the Chesapeake’s native oyster population and revitalizing the State’s beleaguered oyster industry.
“We are grateful to the commission members for providing us with an exceptional framework for oyster restoration,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Now it is our turn to translate their hard work into the definitive actions that will return a healthy native oyster population to Maryland waters.”
The recommendations, developed in concert with state fisheries managers and stakeholders, include:
- Pursuing option 8A of the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement currently being finalized, which favors using only the native Eastern oyster for both ecological restoration and aquaculture in Maryland. Although option 8A also mentions a baywide moratorium on oyster harvesting, the OAC is currently recommending expanded oyster sanctuary and a more restrictive fishery.
- Focusing restoration on larger scale, interconnected sanctuary areas, maximizing opportunity for survival in the face of disease and other stressors.
- Developing a new fisheries management plan that, like other fisheries, would cap the percentage of the existing oysters that could be removed by fishermen each year.
- Putting an end to illegal oyster harvesting, especially in protected, prohibited and leased areas.
- Growing Maryland’s oyster industry through emphasis on aquaculture and providing permit streamlining, training and startup resources for watermen.
- Reversing habitat degradation and the impacts of land-based activities on water quality.
- Expanding sources of disease-free oyster seed and substrate to support habitat restoration efforts.
““This report lays out a clear strategy for restoring large scale populations of native oysters in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay,” said OAC Chairman Bill Eichbaum. “We also set forth a number of steps that need to be taken in order to create a climate conducive to the development of a growing oyster harvest that is largely based on aquaculture.”
The Maryland Oyster Advisory Commission was established by the General Assembly in 2007 as part of a legislative package introduced at Governor O’Malley’s request and co-sponsored by House Speaker Mike Busch.
“I want to congratulate the Commission on their hard work and continued dedication to improve the health of Maryland's most treasured natural resource, the Chesapeake Bay,” said Speaker Busch. “I look forward to working with Governor O’Malley, my colleagues in the legislature and stakeholders to continue our efforts to restore one of our State’s most important and enduring species.”
The 21-member Commission of scientists, watermen, anglers, businessmen, economists, environmental advocates, and elected officials, appointed by Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary John Griffin, is charged with evaluating and making recommendations regarding the oyster industry and oyster restoration in Maryland.
“We are especially pleased that so many of our key stakeholders – including watermen and industry leaders -- were involved in this transparent process through the Commission’s workgroups,” said Secretary Griffin. “These recommendations will be used in conjunction with the Environmental Impact Statement currently being finalized, to present a final action plan to Governor O’Malley this spring.”
Read the complete Maryland Oyster Advisory Commission 2008 Legislative Report here.
February 6, 2009
Contact: Ray Weaver
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 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