Watermen React to Somerset County Oyster Restoration Proposal - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Watermen React to Somerset County Oyster Restoration Proposal

Posted: Sep 06, 2018 1:19 PM -04:00 Updated:
Oyster Shells (Photo WBOC) Oyster Shells (Photo WBOC)

DEAL ISLAND, Md - Watermen are reacting to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' announcement that it plans to make the Manokin River the fifth and final tributary in the Chesapeake Bay for large scale oyster restoration. 

Portions of the river have been off-limits to watermen since 2010 when it was declared a sanctuary site by the federal government. 

Daniel Webter, co-chairman of the Somerset County Oyster Committee, said the oyster restoration is a sore subject for watermen. 

"They took the whole Manokin and the Nanticoke River which was never on the table for discussion," Webster said. 

Webster said the 2010 sanctuary designation was only supposed to be for five years - but it's been eight and no progress has been made. 

"Sanctuaries don't work, they never have," Webster said. "When you close something off and don't use it, it silts over." 

Webster said DNR promised to not take the best oyster bars but it did. He said by doing that it hurt business for watermen. 

Watermen are hopeful that if the state invests money instead of federal funds then there is a chance Manokin will be operational again. The last time the public shellfish area was open for harvest was in the Spring of 2010. 

Gregory Price, chairman of the Oyster Committee, said there are a lot of oysters in the Manokin and are not allowing watermen to work those waters will cause the oysters to reproduce and simply die. 

"Well, it would mean a lot if we got it back on a temporary basis and we're hoping someday we will," Price said. 

WBOC reached out to DNR for comment. DNR said the watermen will have a chance to bid on restoration work, such as planting shells, seeding oysters and assisting with monitoring activities. 

The Manokin River recommendation is not a done deal. More hearings will take place in the coming months. 

 

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