Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Watermen Pay For Their Own Oysters

Oysters planted on public bar in Choptank River
A hand tonging bar in the Choptank River was planted with more than 10 million baby oysters, or spat, on Tuesday, July 19.

The planting, while still part of the state’s plan for oysters, is different in that the oysters were planted on a public bar, rather than in sanctuaries where watermen can’t harvest.
We saw yesterday how reluctant watermen are to support the replenishment of oysters they might not be allowed to harvest.
It’s part of a program where county watermen associations and the Department of Natural Resources partner to plant hatchery-raised oyster spat on public bars.

DNR Secretary Mark Belton said watermen are charged $1 for every bushel of oysters they harvest. That money is allocated to a special fund, which is spent on activities like the Dickerson oyster planting on Tuesday that are specifically requested by county oyster committees.
I wonder how much of the bill for the planting the $1 a bushel fee covers?  My guess is not very much.
“If you harvest an area, you’ve got to put shell back at some point for the spat to adhere to and grow for the oysters in the future,” Belton said.
The bar has been receiving hatchery oysters for the past several years, Parks said. Watermen will be able to legally harvest the oysters planted Tuesday once they grow to market size in about three years.
So, I'd be curious, if this is cost efficient, why the watermen don't skip the state middleman, collect their own funds, and replant all the oyster bars?

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