Watermen: Open Anne Arundel oyster sanctuaries to harvesting
Herring Bay near Deale has eight historic oyster bars, all of them protected from harvesting because the area is an oyster sanctuary.Sanctuary. "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
But some commercial watermen say working small sanctuaries like Herring Bay could be better for the oysters, water, and people in the long run.
Bill Scerbo, president of the Anne Arundel Watermen’s Association, wants to see sanctuaries like those in county waters reopened to commercial fishing. They say right now oysters in some low-salinity sanctuaries, like Herring Bay, aren’t reproducing naturally.
“A lot of oysters have died of old age up here and haven’t been replaced,” the Shady Side resident said.
That wish is likely to be part of a grand environmental policy debate when the General Assembly returns to Annapolis next month.
Lawmakers will consider changes to the state’s oyster harvesting plan in light of a major new study of the oyster population in Maryland.
Compiled over 18 months at the request of legislators, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science found that during the last two decades the state’s oyster population has declined by half, from about 600 million market-sized oysters in 1999 to about 300 million today.
Scientists found that more than half of the areas surveyed were overfished.