The future of Maryland's oysters is in jeopardy. A recent oyster stock assessment found that Maryland's oyster population has declined by more than half, from around 600 million market size oysters in 1999 to less than 300 million in early 2018. More than half of the areas surveyed were deemed to be overfished. These results mean one thing—our current system of oyster fishery management is not working.
Recently, Governor Hogan vetoed bi-partisan legislation that would have created an oyster fishery management plan. Now the task of creating a new plan falls to Maryland's Department of Natural Resources (DNR). But, the plan and regulations DNR has proposed are woefully inadequate and lack transparency. In fact, the proposed regulations remove all current parameters and restrictions on the fishery and replace them with a blank check for the DNR to make changes at any time with only a 48-hour notice to the public. This does not allow for any public comment or input to those changes.
Maryland's oysters need a strong plan that adheres to the best available science and involves all stakeholders. It's time for Maryland to forge a path forward for our incredible water-filtering oysters, toward a restored Bay, healthy habitat, and vibrant fisheries.
Use the form below to tell DNR—before July 22—how valuable oysters are to our environment, economy, and way of life. Urge them to move oyster restoration efforts forward and turn to a fishery management plan that will restore and protect this Bay cornerstone species for future generations.
Your voice will have the greatest impact if you write to DNR in your own words. Describe the value of oysters and clean water to you and your community.
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Oyster Fishery Management Plan and Oyster Fishery Regulations
Dear Maryland Department of Natural Resources Regulatory Staff,
As a Marylander who cares deeply about the health of the Chesapeake Bay, I am concerned about the Department's proposed oyster fishery management plan and associated management regulations. A healthy Bay is not possible without a robust oyster population, and these proposed regulations will determine if oyster recovery will be achieved.