There is a long history of conflict and complexity regarding the harvest and management of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. There is also a long standing concern over the precipitous decline in oyster populations over the last many decades.
Oysters are a “keystone” species, which act as the foundation of Chesapeake Bay habitat systems. As a filter feeder, they also work to remove nutrients while feeding on algae, and help clean and clear the water.
Oysters are of the utmost importance to providing clean water, healthy fisheries, sustainable seafood, and ecological and economic health for Maryland.
As recreational anglers who rely on healthy habitat and clean water, CCA Maryland has a long standing interest in oysters, both in the management of our wild fishery, growth of aquaculture, and restoration efforts.
On April 1, 2015, CCA Maryland leaders sent the letter this letter to Maryland DNR to state our position on numerous topics related to oyster management.
Many actions have occurred since our leaders wrote that 2015 letter, but the foundational principles still remain.
- The use of science-based principles to help guide the future management of the oyster fishery and resource
- Working towards sustainable levels of harvest based on both the needs of the resource and recognizing the importance of a balance of restoration, a wild fishery, and aquaculture.
- Expanding shell recycling networks, and recognizing that shell lost from harvest must be controlled better than it has over the history of our wild fishery.
- Developing innovative ways to improve oyster populations, and finding scientifically sound ways to invest in economic solutions to ecological issues
Oysters are the very foundation of the ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay and will continue to be a major focus of CCA Maryland’s advocacy work.
In the last many years we have:
- Opposed the destructive practice of dredging buried oyster shell from Man O War Shoal, the last great oyster bar in the upper Chesapeake Bay.
- Supported the passage of the Sustainable Oyster Fishery and Management Act of 2016 (SB 937), which required the first ever stock assessment of Chesapeake Bay oysters to be completed. 2016 SB 937 Written Testimony
- Supported the passage of HB 924, Prohibiting the Department of Natural Resources from reducing or altering the boundaries of specified oyster sanctuaries until the Department develops a fisheries management plan for the scientific management of the oyster stock following completion of a specified study and reports required by SB 937 . 2017 HB924 Written Testimony
- Represented Maryland’s angling community in Oyster Futures, a multi year consensus building workshop to develop recommendations for oyster policies and management that meet the needs of industry, citizen, and government stakeholders in the Choptank and Little Choptank Rivers.
- Continually supported the growth of the oyster aquaculture industry as a sustainable choice for developing small businesses and providing economic benefits to “working waterfront” communities impacted by declines in commercial fisheries throughout the Chesapeake Bay region.
- Shared the importance of the ecosystem services provided by oysters to all stakeholders in the Chesapeake Bay region, and the importance of the oysters role in building habitat as a natural filter for our degraded waterways.
- Represented CCA Maryland and recreational anglers interests through a seat on the Oyster Advisory Commission (OAC)
On the second Wednesday of each January, the Maryland General Assembly (GAM) begins a ninety day legislative session. During this time 47 State Senators, and 141 Delegates work to consider action on multiple bills, as well as the states capital and operating budgets. The information below is specific to bills that CCA Maryland is tracking and/or … Read more
CCA Louisiana is finding out what science has told us for decades….The use of dredges and scrapes, is destructive to oyster reef habitat, and the many ecosystem services oysters provide. “It’s sad what has happened to the state’s public oyster grounds. They have been absolutely dragged to death, and there is no denying it,” said Cresson. “Perhaps … Read more
Did you know that Maryland DNR conducts an annual Oyster Population Fall Survey each year to review the overall health of the oyster population? Surveys that asses the health of our natural resources like these should guide managers in determining how to best utilize our oyster resources. Information like disease prevalence and spat per bushel … Read more
As a requirement of the Sustainable Oyster Population and Fishery Act of 2016, Maryland DNR requested input from members of the Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission(SFAC) on management tools to include in the new fisheries management plan. CCA’s Executive Director sent the following letter to DNR requesting a new consensus building effort to build the future … Read more
March 12, 2018 David Sikorski, Executive Director. CCA Maryland’s Government Relations Committee has been hard at work in Annapolis this session opposing bad bills and supporting good ones. It has been a busy year, with A LOT of legislation being introduced. You can CLICK HERE to search for bills, find out who your legislator is, or … Read more
Dr. Kenneth Lewis, a longtime CCA Maryland leader penned the following Op-Ed regarding the proposal to dredge Man O War Shoal. Click here to view the full article in the Baltimore Sun.
The public comment period on this issue ended Tuesday November, 21 2017. To view CCA Maryland’s official comments on this issue CLICK HERE In 2015, Maryland Department of Natural Resources(DNR) made the decision to further their longstanding application to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) and Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) for … Read more
March 17th, 2017 By: David Sikorski, Executive Director With the session still in, CCA Maryland’s Government Relations Committee(GRC) is still working the halls of the legislature to ensure our messages of the importance of science based management and the long-term sustainability of our shared natural resources continues to be learned and understood by our elected … Read more
Photo credit: Bay Journal/Virginia Marine Resources Commission 2/14/2017 David Sikorski, Executive Director CCA Maryland An update on the status of the application to dredge Man O War shoal’s fossil shell was presented at the meeting of the Oyster Advisory Commission (OAC) on February 13, 2017. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources(DNR) reported that the timeline provided … Read more
Last night, in the waning hours of the legislative session, the now named Sustainable Oyster Population and Fishery Act of 2016(HB 1603/SB937) received strong bipartisan support and passed the General assembly. CCA MD’s Government Relations Committee(GRC) is very proud of this accomplishment A number of legislators and their staff should be commended on their efforts … Read more