MD DNR Reminds Watermen that New Oyster Sanctuaries Are in Effect

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has issued a reminder to Marylanders that new sanctuaries are in effect for this year’s oyster season, which begins October 1. According the agency, Natural Resources Police (NRP) officers will be out on the water, patrolling sanctuaries and stepping up enforcement.

The Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development plan increases Maryland’s network of oyster sanctuaries from 9 percent to 24 percent of remaining quality habitat; increases areas open to leasing for oyster aquaculture and streamlines the permitting process; and maintains 76 percent of the Bay’s remaining quality oyster habitat for a more targeted, sustainable, and scientifically managed public oyster fishery.

In addition to any points assigned to the license, conviction of harvesting oysters from a leased area, an oyster sanctuary, oyster reserve, or area closed for public health will result in suspension of a person’s tidal fish license or authorization for up to 365 days during the oyster harvest season.

To mitigate short-term economic impacts to the industry, DNR is developing watermen work programs to facilitate restoration efforts. Funding for these efforts comes from $15 million of federal blue crab fishery disaster money and state capital funds. Watermen assisted DNR in rehabilitating oyster bar habitat and retrieving ghost (abandoned) crab pots this past winter. Additional oyster bar rehabilitation work will be available for watermen this winter.

source: MD DNR

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