Maryland Establishes New Oyster Advisory Commission

Group is charged with developing new strategies for rebuilding and managing the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster population

ANNAPOLIS (September 18, 2007) — Today Governor Martin O’Malley announced the formation of Maryland’s new Oyster Advisory Commission (OAC), established by the General Assembly as part of a legislative package introduced at the Governor’s request earlier this year. The 21-member commission, charged with developing new strategies for rebuilding and managing the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster population, held its first meeting on Monday, September 17, at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater.

“We are clearly running out of time to save a species that is of immeasurable value to the Bay’s ecosystem, the seafood industry, and our culture as Marylanders,” said Governor O’Malley. “We are challenging our new Oyster Advisory Commissioners—scientists and stakeholders alike—to work together, to move beyond traditional thinking, and to give us some new ideas for giving our native oyster a new lease on life.”

Legislation (HB 133 / SB 148) enacted in April directs the OAC to utilize the best available science to recommend and analyze:

-- Strategies to minimize the impact of oyster disease;
-- Effectiveness of the oyster sanctuary, harvest reserve, and repletion programs, and the overall management of natural oyster bars through a cost-benefit analysis that considers biological, ecological, economic, and cultural issues;
-- Strategies to maximize the ecological benefits of natural oyster bars; and
-- Strategies to improve enforcement of closed oyster areas.

“The work of this Commission will be critical if we are to restore our oyster population to the Bay,” said Maryland Speaker of the House, Michael E. Busch, who co-sponsored the legislation. “We sincerely appreciate the willingness of the Commission members to offer their expertise to the State, and the General Assembly members look forward to receiving their initial report by the end of the year.”

Under the Governor’s direction, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary John R. Griffin appointed the 21 scientists, watermen, anglers, businessmen, economists, environmental advocates, and elected officials to the Commission.

“You have been chosen not only for the range of your experience and perspective, but also for your proven ability to explore new strategies,” Griffin told the group at the inaugural meeting. “A specific effort was made to include individuals who are not overly invested in historical oyster management and restoration so that new ideas can be presented and openly discussed.”

At the meeting, members began their tenure with a strategic planning exercise to evaluate Maryland’s efforts towards achieving the ecological and economic goals of the oyster restoration program. The OAC will also utilize the latest findings of an Environmental Impact Statement currently being drafted with other state and federal government partners to evaluate oyster restoration options for the Chesapeake Bay.

“We are at a crossroads with oyster management and this new Commission may represent our final opportunity to restore the ecological role of native oysters and assure an economically appropriate and viable industry in the Chesapeake Bay,” said Bill Eichbaum, Oyster Advisory Commission Chair and World Wildlife Fund Vice President.

Oyster Advisory Commission Membership

Chair: William Eichbaum, World Wildlife Fund

Sherman Baynard, Maryland Coastal Conservation Association

Don Boesch, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

Torrey Brown, Intralytix, Inc. & Oyster Recovery Partnership

Mark Bryer, The Nature Conservancy

Kim Coble, Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Richard Colburn, Maryland State Senator

Stephen Lafferty, Maryland State Delegate

Douglas Legum, Real Estate Developer

Doug Lipton, University of Maryland Sea Grant Program

Mark Luckenbach, Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Pat Montanio, National Oceanic and Administrative Administration

Tony O’Donnell, Maryland State Delegate

Midgett Parker, Linowes & Blocher, LLP

Ben Parks, Maryland Watermen’s Association

Bill Richkus, Versar, Inc.

Brian Rothschild, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

Jason Ruth, W.H. Harris Oyster Company

Eric Schott, University of Maryland Center for Marine Biotechnology

Don Webster, University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service

Bill Windley, Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen’s Association

For more information about the Oyster Advisory Commission visit

Source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

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