Funding gets the OK for oyster recovery programs
CAMBRIDGE — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Board of Public Works each approved funding for projects dealing with oyster recovery and restoration, a release states.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources approved funding with the support of the Board of Public Works.
The board approving funding for the oyster recovery programs consisted of Gov. Larry Hogan, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy Kopp, who approved three contracts to the Oyster Recovery Partnership.
Sen. Addie Eckardt, R37-Mid-Shore, said any money approved to fund oyster replenishment was important to the economy of local watermen.
“We always can put more money into oyster recovery, whether we’re supporting historic watermen doing a variety of historic fishing practices like hand tonging,” Eckardt said. “Any amount of funding that goes into oyster replenishment and recovery is very important to the health of the Bay.”
One contract will construct and restore oyster reefs in support of the
2014 Chesapeake Bay
Watershed Agreement that calls on Maryland to restore native oyster habitat and populations in five tributaries by 2025. In Maryland, these large-scale restoration projects are focused in Harris Creek, which is complete, as well as the Little Choptank, Manokin, Tred Avon and Upper St. Mary’s rivers.
Another contract will fund construction and restoration of oyster reefs in support of the department’s initiative to enhance oyster restoration efforts in other state sanctuaries, beyond the five large-scale projects, namely the Nanticoke and Severn rivers. About 70 million oysters will be planted in the Nanticoke Sanctuary as part of this contract, the release states.
An additional contract will aid the Marylanders Grow Oysters program to construct and restore oyster reefs in sanctuaries. A minimum of 6 million hatchery oysters will be produced and delivered to participating waterfront residents throughout Maryland in support of this community-driven oyster recovery and restoration effort.
Eckardt said the restoration that has been done to Harris Creek is a step in the right direction for oyster recovery.
“$3 million isn’t as much as needs to be put into it, but it’s a step in the right direction, and we want to continue to build the population and restore them,” Eckardt said.
Eckardt said the state was looking into a rotating area recovery plan but had yet to implement anything concrete.
“We had wanted to get a rotation going so if there was any reef or bottom that was not productive, you could clean and replenish it ... We’ve failed in those efforts,” Eckardt said. “
Eckardt said there can be tension between two groups of watermen and oyster recovery partners. She said she believes there can be compromise between the groups.
“I always wish that there could be a balance for providing areas for our historic waterman to do what they do best in addition to the oyster aquaculture,” Eckardt said. “So how do we strike a balance? … Any oyster effort to harvesting and replenishing the natural bars, in addition to the aquaculture, is all filtering the Bay, and that’s what we all want. It’s a ver y precious commodity and very important to our livelihood.”
Oyster shells on display, which represent the annual spat production by Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge. In 2017, the lab produced 1.78 billion oysters. This year, the lab has produced 1.28 billion. The lab is one of the oyster restoration partners in the state.