The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has issued season limits for the 2019-2020 oyster harvesting season.
Effective immediately, the 2019-20 season will begin October 1, 2019 with no commercial harvesting on Wednesdays, and temporary closures to wild harvesting in certain areas where there is a low abundance of oysters, low natural spat set or where spat-on-shell plantings are being protected, including some areas north of the Gov. William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bay Bridge.
Additionally, the recreational harvest will be limited to three days a week (Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only) with no harvesting after noon and a 50 percent reduction in harvest limits.
Details are issued by public notice and are available on the department’s website under “Shellfish Closures/Openings.”
DNR scientists expect that these measures will result in approximately a net 26 percent reduction in oyster harvest.
The approach was developed using modeling of historic data, findings of the 2018 Oyster Stock Assessment, and input from stakeholders and was scoped in a public meeting with the Oyster Advisory Commission, the Sport Fish Advisory Commission and the Tidal Fish Advisory Commission.
They will be combined with other measures outlined in Maryland’s new Oyster Management Plan with a goal of increasing oyster populations and garnering a sustainable oyster fishery in 8-10 years.
According to DNR, oyster population fluctuations are caused by multiple factors, including nutrient pollution, disease, harvest pressure, and freshwater flows.
Heavy rains the past two years have introduced large amounts of fresh water and greatly reduced salinity in portions of the bay, impacting oyster habitats and reproduction.
source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources