Maryland voters support existing protections for oysters
An overwhelming majority of Maryland voters across party lines support maintaining existing Chesapeake Bay oyster sanctuaries, according to a poll by a bipartisan research team commissioned by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Maryland is considering a proposal to open up nearly 1,000 acres of oyster sanctuaries to harvest.
“Voters understand the value of leaving a quarter of the state’s reefs closed to harvest, so oysters can recover from decades of overharvest and disease,” said Alison Prost, Maryland Executive Director of CBF.
The poll results found 88 percent of Marylanders support existing sanctuaries, two-thirds of those voters “strongly.” The findings suggest strong support across party lines, with 91 percent of registered Democrats, 89 percent of Independents, and 82 percent of Republicans in support.
The poll was conducted by a collaboration between Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, a Democratic polling firm, and Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm.
Three-quarters of Maryland’s oyster reefs are open to harvesting, under current regulations. A proposal before the Oyster Advisory Commission would shrink the sanctuary areas by 11 percent and enlarge the harvest areas.
“Marylanders understand we must take the long view managing our oysters,” said Prost. “That’s why it’s vitally important we wait for scientists to finish their stock assessment.”
The poll found voters understand the value of undisturbed oyster beds. Fully 92 percent said that the ability of those sanctuary reefs to filter pollutants from the water and to improve water quality was “extremely” or “very important” to them. And 88 percent of voters said they value the protection and habitat for fish, crabs, and other plants and wildlife that protected reefs provide.
HB924, being considered in the General Assembly, should be supported. It legislates that sanctuaries cannot be reduced or altered until a stock assessment report required by SB937, passed last session, is complete.
At a public hearing on Friday, supporters of HB924 testified that oyster sanctuaries should be closed permanently not only to maximize growth potential but also to support an increase in the overall biomass of disease-resistant oysters in multiple areas.
A sanctuary is a place where someone or something is protected or given shelter. If they’re in a sanctuary, oysters should be left alone.
*** Gill-net nonsense SB554 should be opposed since it’s unnecessar y legislation and seeks to increase the allowable stretched mesh size of commercial gill nets from 7 inches to 7.5 inches.
The increased size would likely increase the kill of large spawner female striped bass. It would also increase the likelihood of killing the few Atlantic sturgeon left in the Chesapeake.
As a coast-wide migratory species, striped bass are managed in Maryland by the DNR consistent with the parameters set by the Striped Bass Management Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Allowable fishing gear should continue to be managed through regulation, and by DNR, consistent with the approved ASMFC fisheries management plan.
*** Fishing report A full-blown run of yellow perch is expected any day now. White perch need a bit warmer water to spawn, but they too should be in upper tributaries en masse in another couple weeks if weather continues to stay mild.
Anglers are already having some luck near Millington in the Chester River, on the Yellow Bank Stream of the Corsica, the Tuckahoe, and in the upper Choptank approaching Greensboro.
On the Pocomoke, where water temperatues are already in the 50s, catch numbers for yellow perch, crappie, and pickerel (up to 26 inches) continue to grow. White perch should be active any day now. Blue gills and largemouth bass are also getting active.
*** Duck blind know-it-all Egg-dumping, or “intraspecific brood parasitism” is common in Wood Ducks—females visit other Wood Duck cavities, lay eggs in them, and leave them to be raised by the other female.
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