Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Maryland Watermen Oppose Seafood

More specifically, watermen oppose efforts at oyster aquaculture in  Chesapeake Bay: First oyster farm in Kent County encounters choppy waters
. . . Budden spent three years researching how he would establish an oyster company, what kind of gear he would need and the best place to grow his crop before applying for a lease in spring 2013.

In May 2014, the Department of Natural Resources approved Budden’s 4-acre proposed lease north of Ringold Point and put it out for the next step: the public feedback process.

Budden thought he’d be able to start his oyster farm quickly and had even lined up some part-time workers after the May 14 approval. But then, within the 30-day comment period, waterman Wayne Wilson protested the lease and pressed his case at a DNR hearing in Centreville, in neighboring Queen Anne’s County.

Budden still felt optimistic. He had the support of the Kent County Chamber of Commerce, environmental groups, and the current and former Chestertown mayors. On Nov. 18, Budden went before the Kent County Commissioners to describe his project. They voted unanimously to support it.

But one month later, Commissioner Ron Fithian changed his mind. He wrote to the state questioning the project. Then, Fithian decided Kent County would have its own public hearing — something the state does not require.

Fithian, a former waterman and current Rock Hall town manager, is chairman of the Clean Chesapeake Coalition, a group openly critical of the DNR’s oyster restoration policies — in particular, the prohibition on power-dredging for oysters north of the Bay Bridge. . . 
If it were up to me, I'd ban the fishing and "restoration" of wild oysters for 5 or even 10 years to see if they are even capable of increasing their populations in the Bay. As for aquaculture, I'd prefer to see it spread.

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