(ANNAPOLIS, MD)—The Maryland Department of Natural Resources presented part of its first-ever state oyster stock assessment Monday night in Annapolis. The results, presented by University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science professor Mike Wilberg, found that oyster populations in Maryland 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. Scientists said Monday night the Bay's current market size oyster population represents less than 10 percent of the oysters harvested annually before 1900.
The assessment also indicated harvesting is occurring beyond sustainable levels in more than 50 percent of Maryland waters.
Today, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Maryland Executive Director Alison Prost issued the following statement:
"Last night's presentation confirmed some of our greatest fears about the Bay's oyster population. The state needs to develop a fishery management plan that protects existing and restored oyster reefs to significantly increase the overall oyster population. We look forward to working with the Department of Natural Resources through an open and transparent process to do so.