The owner of the Ever Forward container ship, which ran aground in the Chesapeake Bay in March, will pay Maryland more than half a million dollars to enhance local oyster bars as a penalty for the accident, following a Wednesday morning vote from Maryland’s Board of Public Works.
After the grounding, Maryland issued an emergency wetlands license that allowed for dredging the shallow bottom around the vessel to re-float it. After several attempts — and the removal of about 500 cargo containers — the Ever Forward was freed April 17.
Wednesday’s vote by the Maryland board — which includes the governor, comptroller and state treasurer — tacks on a $676,200 payment to that license, which will go toward enhancing and reseeding 41 acres of oyster bars to mitigate for the grounding. Because the grounding occurred in Anne Arundel County, oyster bars there will be prioritized by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
. . .
The Ever Forward’s grounding and dredging impacted 14 acres of bay bottom, including 11.5 acres within the boundary of a natural oyster bar, the Maryland Department of the Environment said in a news release.
The impacted bar wasn’t very populated to begin with, according to a survey by the Department of Natural Resources, so there were “no discernable impacts” on oysters, aside from the “deep footprint of the ship and dredging.”
But the area was a favored habitat for blue crabs during the winter months, when the creatures burrow into the muddy bottom to protect themselves from the cold.
The grounding and subsequent efforts to free the Ever Forward impacted an estimated 423 crabs, or about 5 bushels, according to DNR’s survey.
So, no "discernable impact" to oysters, and minimal damage to crabs (5 bushels is one good party) and $700k fine to remind them not to ground their ships in Maryland. And, oh by the way, the grounding was apparently caused by a negligent local pilot that the ship had to take on for safety reasons. On the other hand, $700k isn't a lot of money the grand scheme of the cost of the gounding.