Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Go South, Old Man

Watermen Head South in Bay to Make Money
All the wet weather the Mid-Atlantic region experienced over the summer is proving problematic for many of the watermen who make their living in the upper part of the Chesapeake Bay.

All the silt and pollutants that have been dumped into the northern portion of the bay as a result of flooding have killed many oysters. That has forced many of the watermen to head to lower parts of the Bay where oyster mortality is not an issue. "It's probably 30 to 40 percent more boats," said Scott Todd a waterman in Cambridge. "It's definitely put added strain on the area," he said.

Watermen up and down the bay are already dealing with limited resources due to state-imposed sanctuaries and other restrictions. This has put more areas off limits for watermen when it comes time for harvesting.

Traveling to other parts of the bay to work is also an added cost for watermen. In some cases they have to travel two hours just one way to harvest oysters in order to turn a profit out on the water.
Because oysters are all but wiped out in the northern portion of the bay by an extreme weather event, the watermen from the north are moving in on the remaining oysters further south (already a small fraction of the Bay's original population), and likely dooming those oysters to further losses.  It's long past time to end the madness and stop harvesting wild oysters in Chesapeake Bay, and find out if recovery is even possible.

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