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Chesapeake Bay News

Archives: September 2008


New Oyster Growing Program Engages Maryland Residents in Bay Restoration

Waterfront property owners on Maryland’s Tred Avon River have a new way to become involved in the Bay restoration effort through a pilot oyster-growing program set up by several Maryland state agencies and Bay Program partners.

Marylanders Grow Oysters invites residents along the Tred Avon River, a tributary of the Choptank River in Talbot County, to grow oysters from their piers using cages filled with young oysters provided by the Oyster Recovery Partnership.

Oysters are vital to the Bay because they filter algae and pollutants out of the water and form reefs that provide habitat for underwater life. (See an oyster reef’s amazing filtering abilities in this video from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.)

The state hopes to enlist 250 homeowners in the program by the end of October. Each homeowner will place four oyster cages off their pier. After a nine- to 12-month growing period, the oysters will be planted in a protected sanctuary in the Tred Avon River, adding to the more than 1.4 billion oysters that have been planted by the state throughout Maryland waters since 2000.

For more on this pilot program, visit the Marylanders Grow Oysters website. If you do not live on the Tred Avon River but would like to participate in the program in the future, you can sign up to receive information from the Department of Natural Resources when the program expands to other Maryland tributaries.

Learn about more things you can do to help the Bay at home, in your backyard and on your boat.

Keywords: restoration, oysters

Bay Blue Crab Fishery Declared a State of Disaster

The U.S. Department of Commerce has declared a commercial fishery failure for the Chesapeake Bay blue crab fishery after finding a dramatic downturn in the soft shell and peeler segments of the region's crab industry.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the harvest value of soft shell crabs in Maryland and Virginia has declined by 41 percent since the late 1990s, which has had a significant impact on the region’s economy and watermen who harvest blue crabs.

The disaster declaration comes after the governors of Maryland and Virginia implemented emergency regulations this spring to reduce the female blue crab harvest by 34 percent. Pollution, habitat loss, lack of prey and an overabundance of predators are all factors that have contributed to the blue crab decline.

The disaster declaration is an important step toward eligibility for federal aid for Maryland and Virginia watermen as the states work to rebuild the Bay’s blue crab population.

A disaster declaration is issued when the Department of Commerce determines that a decline in the harvest of a fish or shellfish species is a commercial fishery failure. For the blue crab fishery, NOAA Fisheries Service analyzed economic and biological information provided by Maryland and Virginia, as well as from NOAA scientists and economists.

Visit NOAA’s website for more information about the blue crab disaster declaration.

Keywords: blue crabs
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