‘Special interest groups’ keep oyster recovery on track
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.