O'Malley Touts Oyster Numbers, But Watermen Not Buying It - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

O'Malley Touts Oyster Numbers, But Watermen Not Buying It

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TILGHMAN ISLAND, Md.- Watermen were unloading baskets of oysters from the Chesapeake Bay for the big weigh-in. But the amount is relatively low. And has been low for the past ten years, according to waterman Vernon Lynch.

"It's hard. It's getting hard for waterman," said Lynch.

But the good news is the oyster population is getting help. Governor Martin O'Malley has announced more than a billion native oysters have been produced and planted, in just one season. But lynch isn't buying it.

"Well, they're restoring them for what, for who?" said Lynch. "They're not restoring them for us."

Joe Spurry buys and sells oysters. He said what's the good of new oysters, if watermen can't get their hands on them.

"I think there's a place for testing but not taking the river systems out of the use," said Spurry.

Spurry said researchers have put certain river banks off limits, slicing harvesting in half.

"Where all forced to work in a small area and we would over harvest that area because we have no other place to go," said Spurry.

In fact, the governor said the amount of protected waters for oysters has climbed from 9 percent to 24.

"They are steadily taking places for us we don't have any place to work," said Lynch.

Lynch believes state officials are saving oysters but at the fishing industry's expense.

"They don't understand because they're not into this," he said. "They are looking at it from a long distance."

As watermen weigh-in their catch, they hope O'Malley's research doesn't tamper with tomorrow's catch.

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