For those who want to see the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries cleaner, there is positive news coming out of Annapolis this year.
There was legislation this past session that proposed to establish a permanent dedicated network of five oyster sanctuaries for large-scale restoration and improvement of our waterways.
Of course, it was not without opposition. Despite the opposition, much of it coming from my party, I supported the legislation. In fact, I cosponsored the legislation.
Again, to me, it is not about one party or the other, but the subject matter before me. As your representative, I am your voice in Annapolis. Our district is nearly surrounded by water with the Chesapeake Bay, Patapsco River and Magothy River encapsulating it. Most people I talk to want clean waterways, so I supported the legislation, as I believe it was the right and balanced course of action. We need to proactively work to restore our bay.
The current level of oyster population is somewhere between 1% and 2% of its historic highs. We cannot continue down the same discouraging path and expect different results.
The proposed permanent oyster sanctuary areas would prohibit a person or business from catching or removing oysters from the five designated areas. Currently, about 24% of fishable bottom is dedicated to oyster sanctuaries, but they are not permanent. This legislation makes five of those sanctuaries permanent from harvesting.
The five identified tributaries include the Little Choptank River, the Tred Avon River, the St. Mary’s River, the Manokin River, and Harris Creek. These locations were based upon their ability to have the oysters survive the elements and provide the greatest restoration.
I serve on the Senate committee that deals with our waterways. It is exciting to see the work being done in oyster restoration in Maryland.
I recently toured the Horn Point facility on the Eastern Shore, which is doing amazing work to provide oyster spat to be deposited in Maryland’s oyster sanctuaries. They are producing quality outputs through their scientific approach.
Through the efforts of the state, we are seeing a positive trajectory for the cleanliness of the bay. However, we have a long way to go. Passing this legislation would be a significant step in the right direction.
I am happy to say that the bill did pass and is now law. Hopefully with this action and other efforts, we will continue to see the quality of our waterways improve.
If I can be of any assistance or if you have any comments on this subject, please contact me at Bryan.Simonaire@senate.state.md.us or call my office at 410-841-3658.