Fund­ing gets the OK for oys­ter re­cov­ery pro­grams

Dorchester Star - - FRONT PAGE - By JACK RODGERS [email protected]­pub.com

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.”

PHOTO BY JACK RODGERS

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.

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