Group is charged with developing new strategies for rebuilding and managing the Chesapeake Bays oyster population
ANNAPOLIS (September 18, 2007) Today Governor Martin OMalley announced the formation of Marylands new Oyster Advisory Commission (OAC), established by the General Assembly as part of a legislative package introduced at the Governors request earlier this year. The 21-member commission, charged with developing new strategies for rebuilding and managing the Chesapeake Bays 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 Bays ecosystem, the seafood industry, and our culture as Marylanders, said Governor OMalley. 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 Governors 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 Marylands 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 ODonnell, Maryland State Delegate
Midgett Parker, Linowes & Blocher, LLP
Ben Parks, Maryland Watermens 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 Sportfishermens Association
For more information about the Oyster Advisory Commission visit www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/oysters/.
Source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)