Gov. Hogan Vetoes Oyster Fishery Management Plan - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Gov. Hogan Vetoes Oyster Fishery Management Plan

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Credit: Maryland DNR Credit: Maryland DNR

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed bipartisan legislation passed by the General Assembly that would have created a consensus-based process to develop a new oyster fishery management plan for Maryland.

The veto of HB720/SB830 comes after Gov. Hogan vetoed another oyster-related bill to permanently protect five oyster restoration tributaries from harvest. The governor’s veto of the tributary bill was later overridden by the legislature. The consensus fishery management plan received enough votes from legislators to override the governor’s veto.

In a letter to Maryland's President of the Senate and Speaker of the House, Gov. Hogan said that his administration has made "tremendous strides in restoring the bay by making record investments and fighting to protect critical federal funding." However, Gov. Hogan said this legislation "fails significantly in both its spirit and its substance."

"The lack of regard for others, for the process, and for oysters that pervades this legislation is apparent in the actions of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation," Gov. Hogan said in the letter. "My administration strongly opposes secret backroom dealmaking that will endanger the state's long-term oyster restoration efforts, especially at a time when we are just making measurable progress. 

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation supports the fishery management bill and says they believe it offers the best chance at creating a plan that satisfies the diverse interests of environmentalists, watermen, oyster farmers, and seafood dealers.

The General Assembly will not have a chance to override the veto until its next session begins in January 2020, unless a special session is called. By issuing the veto, the governor is setting aside a collaborative process that calls for using the latest science to identify sustainable oyster management tools.

A new plan must be developed after the state’s new oyster stock assessment determined the oyster population in the Maryland portion of the Bay dropped from 600 million adult oysters in 1999 to 300 million in 2018. The assessment also found oysters in nearly half of the harvest areas in Maryland’s portion of the Bay were being overharvested.

In response, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Maryland Executive Director Alison Prost issued the following statement:

“Business as usual won’t bring back Maryland’s oysters. We are not surprised by the Governor’s veto. He previously vetoed a commonsense measure to permanently protect restored oyster reefs.

“By vetoing this consensus-based fishery management bill, the state’s Department of Natural Resources will continue the same failed strategies that led to overfishing and perilously low population levels. Restoring Maryland’s oysters is possible, but only through collaboration and following the science.”

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