Saturday, January 2, 2016

Maryland Watermen, Army War Over Oyster Restoration

Army Corps of Engineers weighs in on watermen's concerns
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has responded to comments from local watermen after the Maryland Department of Natural Resources asked the corps to delay oyster restoration work in the Tred Avon River pending the completion of a review of the project’s effectiveness.
. . .
In a recent email, Angie Sowers, integrated water resources management specialist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, said preliminary results do show some success in the recently completed Harris Creek sanctuary.

This past summer, Harris Creek was the first tributary where restoration plans were completed, Sowers said. Since 2011, Sowers said 2 billion oysters were planted in Harris Creek, with more than 350 acres of oyster bar restored.

“Areas that had less than one oyster per square meter now have upward of 25, preliminary results from the (Oyster Metrics Workgroup) show,” Sowers said in her email.
But watermen were not impressed:
In a phone interview, Bunky Chance, president of Talbot Watermen’s Association, said data coming out of Harris Creek indicates restoration efforts have not been successful
. . .
Both Chance and Bob Newberry, chairman of the Delmarva Fisheries Association, said Broad Creek, which is part of a commercial fisheries area, has a higher spat count, and oyster bars in Broad Creek are doing better than the sanctuary in Harris Creek.
Oysters do better in some places than in others for various reasons not entirely well known to science. It could be that Broad Creek is just one of those areas, which would explain why it still has any oysters at all after a century of heavy fishing as well as diseases.

Watermen were also less than thrilled with the substrate used, and its use in the Harris Creek restoration.
In a recent interview, Newberry said he has concerns regarding large rock piles that were put into Harris Creek improperly and that he said have done more than $30,000 in damage to watermen’s boats.
What watermen really resent, though, is any area where oysters are that they are not allowed to pillage.

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