Thursday, April 24, 2008

DNR Blunders, Guided By Politics Rather than Science

Tuesday's Capital reported that the Department of Natural Resources is poised to remove a "botched" oyster reef in Sillery Bay, in the Magothy River. The truth of the matter is there is nothing "botched" about the recently installed reef at all, aside from the fact that at least three navigationally impaired souls ran their boats aground on it.

Now, at the behest of pitchfork wielding boaters and a misguided Delegate, DNR is going to spend some $40,000 additional dollars to rip the reef out (they spent $150,000 to install it) and get back to the business of building failed oyster reefs "at least 8 feet deep." Somehow, they even managed to get the Magothy River Association on board.

Perhaps those managing the resource and others ostensibly concerned about the success of the oyster fishery Bay-wide will eventually get a clue and look the successful aquaculture operations on the Choptank River, where, believe it or not, they are growing oysters at the surface. And to those who would say, oyster reefs shouldn't be a hazard to navigation, I would direct them to the words of Francis Louis Michel, a Swiss visitor to the Chesapeake in 1701, "The abundance of oysters is incredible. There are whole banks of them so that the ships must avoid them. They surpass those in England by far in size, indeed they are four times as large."

At this juncture, I think we need to ask, "Are we going to manage the fishery for beer addled boaters or for the success of the organism?"

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