Our Greatest Fears

What DNR's recent oyster stock assessment reveals about one of the Bay's most important animals

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On Monday night, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) released part of its first-ever state oyster stock assessment—a requirement of legislation we fought for roughly two years ago to better understand how many oysters were in Maryland waters and how to more sustainably manage the public oyster fishery.

Monday's presentation confirmed some of our greatest fears about the Bay's oyster population. The results found that Maryland's oyster population declined by more than half from around 600 million market size oysters in 1999 to less than 300 million in early 2018.

These figures represent just a fraction of the historic oyster population in the Bay. What's more, the assessment also indicated that harvesting is occurring beyond sustainable levels in more than 50 percent of Maryland waters.

While our scientists are still reading through the 359-page technical report that DNR just released to the public, one thing is clear: The state needs to develop a fishery management plan that protects existing and restored oyster reefs. Also, it needs to implement management actions not just to maximize harvest but to grow the Bay's oyster population. We look forward to working with DNR through an open and transparent process to do so. And we will keep you posted on ways you can help, too.

As you know, a healthy oyster population is critical to a healthy Bay.

Emmy Nicklin

Emmy Nicklin

Director of Digital Communications, CBF

enicklin@cbf.org

Issues in this Post

Fisheries   Fisheries   Fishing   CBF in Maryland   Eastern Shore Office   Maryland Office, Annapolis   Maryland Oyster Restoration Center  




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