Monday, July 25, 2016

"They's Owed Them Ersters"

A reasonable approximation of a comment by a watermen at an oyster management meeting.

'Oyster wars:' Watermen aim to take back oyster bars as state panel reviews shellfish sanctuaries
Amid an experiment to bring Maryland oysters back from the brink, the administration of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is reconsidering strategies launched in 2010. The approach cordoned off some of the bay's oyster population from dredges and oyster tongs, built new habitats atop artificial reefs and also provided a reproductive boost by artificially growing young oysters and spreading them in the bay.

Scientists and environmentalists emphasize that sanctuaries boost reproduction rates and foster disease resistance, because harvesting takes the largest and hardiest oysters out of the gene pool.

But watermen who know the oyster bars intimately question whether the bivalves multiply and thrive any better in the sanctuaries, and whether the work to build artificial reefs amounts to dumping money into the brackish waters. They say the harvest restrictions have challenged an industry that was already reeling.

State officials have charged an advisory panel — which recently gained a half-dozen watermen as members — with broadly evaluating how oysters are faring both inside and outside sanctuaries, and whether some areas could be reopened to commercial harvest.

In what could signal a new direction, state officials plan to decide within two weeks whether to restart a controversial oyster restoration project that the Hogan administration put on hold in a Choptank tributary. The state and federal government have put $44 million into three such projects.

Watermen are skeptical of the efforts, while proponents say the state could be passing up millions of dollars in federal funding if they scrap the latest one.
Watermen see no value in oytsters that they aren't permitted to harvest.

Other articles on the oyster question in the bay news today:

The Associated Press - A look at some oyster restoration programs around the US
Bay Journal - Changes loom for Maryland’s oyster management
The Baltimore Sun - Maryland oyster programs among largest in the country
The Christian Science Monitor - Why scientists are trying to rebuild oyster colonies - Maturing oyster recovery projects bring calls for money

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