New Report Recommends State on Improving Oyster Populations - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

New Report Recommends State on Improving Oyster Populations

Posted: Jun 01, 2018 5:34 PM Updated:

CAMBRIDGE, Md. - In a new report from scientists at Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge, there's a possibly brighter future for oysters and the waters they live in.

Assistant Professor, Elizabeth North, spearheaded the two-year project, gathering stakeholders, including watermen and conservationists, to create 29 recommendations for Maryland's Department of Natural Resources.

"The big picture is people found common ground," North said. "These recommendations, if implemented, would really do a lot to restore and bring back the oyster industry, the oyster ecosystem and maintain this thriving economy, cultural heritage and healthy, productive ecosystem that we all really want."

Among some of the recommendations, stakeholders agreed that Maryland DNR should enhance oyster and fishing regulations as well as increase oyster fishery-related fees and taxes. They're two recommendations that don't sit well with some watermen, like Rob Newberry, who also serves as chairman for the Delmarva Fisheries Association.

"That's ridiculous," Newberry said."They ought to defund Horn Point, take that money, and put it in the oyster Seed and Shell Program."

Newberry argues the recommendations are only a temporary fix to improving oyster populations. Programs, like the watermen's Seed and Shell Program, that put thousands of bushels into open oyster bars, will create a better, long-term solution, according to Newberry.

But North argues, using compromise and computer-generated models, will improve oyster numbers.

"I know there's different pieces from each community that each community is not going to particularly like," North said. "But the big picture really is a very positive one for oysters and for Maryland."

Newberry adds not all of the report's recommendations are bad. He says rotational harvests and hand-tonging for sanctuary oysters are good ideas.

There's no word yet if Maryland DNR will actually use the recommendations and turn them into policy.


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