Maryland Gets It Half Right in Selection of Next Rivers for Oyster Restoration

(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—Alison Prost, Maryland Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), issued this statement following the announcement Friday by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) of a "comprehensive oyster restoration plan," including the selection of two new rivers for focused restoration activity. DNR provided limited information about the plan.

"We are pleased after months of uncertainty about whether large scale restoration would continue in Maryland to see today's announcement. St. Mary's River meets the state's criteria as a good place to focus more restoration work, but Breton Bay does not. The state said tributaries should be selected that have the greatest chance of restoring dense oyster populations with minimal investment.

"The Upper St. Mary's River is likely capable of developing a self-sustaining oyster population, and could act as a nursery for downstream areas where oysters can be harvested, as long as the upper river remains a sanctuary area off-limits to harvesting. While the project could potentially require more limited investment we are curious why DNR would decide at the outset not to leverage additional federal dollars for this project.

"Breton Bay is a low-salinity area with a history of low oyster reproduction. It likely will be difficult and expensive to achieve successful restoration in Breton Bay. DNR has acknowledged these deficiencies so we hope there will be further discussion with stakeholders as to why this area was selected despite not meeting the criteria DNR provided to the Oyster Advisory Commission.

"We are encouraged the Hogan Administration is committed to oyster restoration and is going to follow through with Maryland's oyster restoration commitments. We look forward to learning additional information on the tributary selection as well as details of the Administration's ideas beyond work in these two tributaries."

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