Precaution Prevails; Oysters Won't Be Harvested from Sanctuary Reefs without Complete Science

(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—Alison Prost, Maryland Executive Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, issued this statement today on HB 924 becoming law. The bill was placed on Governor Hogan's desk on Wednesday, March 29, after passage in both the Senate and House. Pursuant to state law, the bill became law after six legislative days passed with no action by the Governor:

"The legislature reaffirmed that Maryland should be cautious in any changes to oyster management. We have so few oysters left, we can't randomly increase harvesting, especially on sanctuaries. Those areas are our insurance policy for the survival of oysters in the Chesapeake.

"This bill simply reiterates what the legislature decided a year ago, that a scientific stock assessment of oysters be completed before we make any major changes in our oyster management policies. We need a sustainable management plan for harvesting oysters, just like we have similar plans for rockfish, crabs, and other Bay creatures. The assessment is a step toward that plan.

"Don't disrupt our cautionary policy on oysters. That's what the legislature stated emphatically, with overwhelming support of the bill in both houses. And by allowing this bill to become law, Governor Hogan recognized that as well. That opinion is shared by nearly all Marylanders, about 90 percent of whom said in a bipartisan poll they valued oyster sanctuaries.

"CBF would like to thank House and Senate leadership and the lead bill sponsor Del. Jim Gilchrist for helping to better protect oysters and all they contribute to Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay."

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