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DNR, ORP & Watermen Continue Oyster Bar Rehabilitation Work
Annapolis, MD (February 24, 2009) — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) have once again united with watermen to continue work on the oyster bar rehabilitation program as part of Governor Martin O’Malley’s plan to help mitigate economic losses from the declining blue crab fishery, while also helping to restore the Chesapeake Bay.
“Together with the Oyster Recovery Partnership, Maryland is taking action to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay, while ensuring that watermen have opportunities to continue to thrive,” said Governor O’Malley. “We are especially thankful to our congressional delegation and Maryland General Assembly for supporting funding which enabled these sustainable measures to be put into action.”
For the next 12 weeks, about 475 watermen will work to recover and clean oyster bars in the Tangier Sound and the Patuxent, Choptank, Tred Avon, Wicomico and Severn Rivers. Watermen will use their boats and dredge equipment to remove silt and sediment from the tops of once historically healthy oyster bars in order to prepare them for a natural spat set and/or hatchery seed planting.
The oyster bar rehabilitation program began in November of 2008 and once complete will have provided at least 10 days of paid work to over 500 watermen. Every year, the Chesapeake Bay loses 2,600 acres of hard bottom oyster habitat. By the end of these projects watermen will have reclaimed shell on 1,000 acres of oyster reefs.
Earlier this year, Governor O’Malley worked closely with Maryland’s Congressional Delegation to help secure a federal fisheries disaster declaration for the crab fishery, which resulted in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service awarding the State of Maryland $10 million in federal fishery disaster funding to help rescue Maryland’s beleaguered Chesapeake Bay blue crab industry. As a result of the availability of that aid, the oyster rehabilitation program was possible.
In 2008, the O’Malley-Brown Administration took historic action, in cooperation with Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine, to rebuild the population by reducing the harvest of ecologically valuable female blue crabs by 34 percent. Preliminary analyses indicate that the measures are working with the 2008 female harvest in Maryland being reduced by 28 to 36 percent. For more information about Maryland’s efforts to rebuild the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population visit www.dnr.maryland.gov/dnrnews/infocus/blue_crab.asp.
February 24, 2009
Contact: Kara Turner
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.