Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Advisory Commission Recommends End to Oystering the Commons

According to a piece by the Post, the Maryland Oyster Advisory Commission, set up by the State of Maryland is prepared to release a report dramatically changing the nature of oyster harvesting in the Bay.

The report recommends that, in order to help the oyster population bounce back from its historic collapse, free-ranging harvest of public oyster beds be scaled back, and instead move the industry towards private, "shellfish farms."

Despite the fact that $40 million has been spent on oyster restoration, the population remains at about 1 percent of its historic levels. The negligible impact of these dollars is at least in part due to the fact that much of that money has been spent on a watermen welfare system, where the State and conservation groups pay to grow and set spat, only to be harvested a few years later - so called "put and take" programs.

Given the miserable condition of the population and the exceedingly small group of people left profiting from its demise, I think the report's recommendations are right on the money. We'll see, in short order, if the Governor and General Assembly have the courage to stand behind them.

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