Maryland Watermen's Association

December 2019

Oysters are not doom and gloom as many environmentalists want everybody to believe. Take the sustainable oyster harvest study, which uses a snap shot of the Bay for oyster abundance. The Department of Natural Resources samples a number of oyster bars at the same places every fall. Based on the sample, they count spat, small, legal size and dead oysters and check for disease. That’s a snap shot of the Bay. That does not give enough data to make a creditable forecast for a sustainable harvest study and it was not designed for that purposes. This is best science available.

This is the first year of our New Oyster Management Plan, which reduces our harvest effort by approximately 30% if not more. No harvest is permitted on Wednesdays and the reduction in bushel limits is reduced: 12 bushels a day per person, 24 to the boat for hand tongers and divers; 10 bushel a day per person 20 to the boat for power dredgers; and 100 bushels a day for skipjacks. With this reduction in harvest, I predict the oystermen will harvest more than last year. After all the rain over the past year, how did this happen? The salinity levels are rising and small oysters are growing at an unprecedented rate. There are more small oysters going back for next season. There are spat sets in the lower Bay and some mid Bay, and prices are up to $50 to $55 per bushel— and this is without harvest on 51 sanctuaries which are silting over and sinking due to lack of work. The goose that laid the golden egg passed us by with no seed areas and shell in lower Bay, we need shell right Troy!  

As of this writing the DNR has not submitted a conservation equivalency plan on striped bass to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and that plan will have to be approved by them. The ASMFC called for an 18% reduction for the sates. The charter boat fishery, which is a part of the recreational fishery, is in a bad position. There are many scenarios on this issue. Just remember the State of Maryland Seal: Fishermen and Farmers! 

Monofilament gill net is in process of approval and I will keep everyone posted. 

Clammers have many concerns about the legislative session. The Maryland Watermen’s Association supports the clamming industry; it’s a vital part of our economy. The Clam Association and many others are preparing for legislation and are ready when needed. 

Stay safe in your travels Happy Holidays!