‘Spe­cial in­ter­est groups’ keep oys­ter re­cov­ery on track

Record Observer - - Sports -

Thank­fully, the Gen­eral As­sem­bly has voted against fur­ther de­struc­tion of oys­ters in Ch­e­sa­peake Bay.

State law­mak­ers have passed a bill that blocks changes to oys­ter sanc­tu­ar­ies for nearly two years. The mea­sure, ap­proved by veto-proof mar­gins, comes as Gov. Ho­gan’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and a state com­mis­sion were de­vel­op­ing a plan that could have opened 11 per­cent of the sanc­tu­ar­ies to com­mer­cial ex­ploita­tion.

The Ch­e­sa­peake and its trib­u­taries still suf­fer from the ef­fects of over­har­vest­ing in the nine­teenth cen­tury. Over­har­vest­ing, com­bined with in­creased sed­i­men­ta­tion and dis­ease, have led to cur­rent oys­ter pop­u­la­tions of less than one per­cent of what they once were (NOAA, 2013). Oys­ters play an im­por­tant role in re­mov­ing al­gae from sea­wa­ter and oys­ter reefs pro­vide vi­tal habi­tat for other marine life.

Sci­en­tists es­ti­mate the bay’s his­toric oys­ter pop­u­la­tion could fil­ter the vol­ume of wa­ter in the Bay ever y three to four days — some­thing it would take over a year to do today (DNR, 2013).

A big thanks to the “spe­cial in­ter­est groups,” the ma­jor­ity of Mary­land cit­i­zens, for their ef­forts to pro­tect and re­store oys­ters.

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