Maryland's oyster management process will be changed. Maryland lawmakers voted Thursday to override Governor Larry Hogan's veto of a bill that would manage the state's oyster management plan.
The process outlined in the legislation will bring together environmental advocates, scientists, watermen, and seafood sellers to work with an independent mediator to recommend policies aimed at increasing the overall oyster population in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will then be required to work with an advisory commission and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science to develop a package of consensus recommendations for improving the state's management plan for oysters.
The state’s adult oyster population dropped by about 50 percent from 1999 to 2018, according to the stock assessment released in December 2018.
I would be very surprised if "environmental advocates, scientists, watermen, and seafood sellers" can reach a consensus. I have little confidence in the "consensus management", but then, the management by DNR in the past has proven to be a failure. I guess need to just hope for the best.
Environmentalists are applauding the override, arguing the legislation requires the new oyster management plan to increase oyster abundance and end overfishing in areas where the stock assessment determines it is occurring.
"This important new law aims to stop the long-term decline of oysters in Maryland," Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Maryland Executive Director Alison Prost said in a statement. "More oysters mean cleaner water, more fish and crabs, and a healthier Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. It’s time to work together toward the common goal of increasing Maryland’s oyster population to improve the state’s environment and the fishery’s long-term outlook. Thanks to the members of the General Assembly for recognizing the importance of this needed legislation that will chart a new path for Maryland’s oysters.”
But not everyone believes the vote will bring a sustainable oyster fishery.
"Regardless of this misguided vote, we will continue to implement our Oyster Management Plan and remain focused on our goal of a sustainable harvest and population in eight to 10 years," Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio said in statement. "The real consequences of this vote are delaying our ability to enhance our state-managed oyster sanctuaries and further straining the relationship between the very stakeholders the legislature wants to come to consensus. Both of these things will delay us from reaching our goals on oyster restoration."
The Wombat has Rule 5 Monday: A Fine Pair up on time and under budget.