After about three years of "intense" work, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its Chesapeake Bay Oyster Recovery: Native Oyster Restoration Master Plan, which aims to restore oyster population on a large scale in the Bay and its tributaries in Maryland and Virginia.And how do the watermen feel about that? Shockingly, they're not happy.
Though the master plan was just released, work toward restoration has begun already.
The plan comes after the presidential executive order to clean up 20 tributaries of the Bay by 2025, and it outlines 24 tier-one tributaries that are currently suited for restoration efforts to begin.
The goal is to restore the Bay on a tributary basis and have 20 to 40 percent of each tributary outlined to turn into oyster sanctuaries, meaning watermen wouldn't be able to harvest oysters on that specific bottom.
But for President of the Talbot County Watermen's Association Bunky Chance, the possibility of any more bottom being taken away from watermen is troubling and a good way to put watermen out of work.I generally prefer the Army approach of making oyster sanctuaries protected from harvest compared to the approach of either Maryland or Virginia state governments, who protect oysters in sanctuaries just long enough for them to grow big enough for harvest. Of course, I prefer my own proposal, a 5 (or more) year moratorium on wild oyster harvest entirely, to determine if oysters will succeed at all in the "modern" bay.
"This sanctuary program is a very short-sighted way to spend millions of the taxpayer's dollars and it's money very poorly spent," Chance said. "For them to talk about extending the sanctuary program, in my view, is the height of idiocy."
However, you have to wonder about a political system in which the US Army is making decisions on oyster management.