ST. MARY'S CITY, Md. (May 13, 2010)—A proposed oyster sanctuary in the upper St. Marys River is at the center of one of the hottest debates around the Chesapeake Bay. John Griffin, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, is coming to St. Mary's City on May 22 to address the public and answer questions about the project.
The Oyster Recovery and Aquaculture Development Plan was announced last December by Governor Martin OMalley, and since has been a subject of great debate. Now that the 2010 Maryland General Assembly has ended, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is expected to issue maps of the proposed sanctuaries and rules for the operation and maintenance of the sanctuaries, leaseholds, and aquaculture areas. Watermen are concerned that they will not be able to make a living on any less bottom than they are currently allowed to harvest, and environmentalists believe that the oyster population is at a historically low level and that a network of sanctuaries throughout the Bay is the only hope for their recovery.
There is no question that the St. Marys River is in decline. Nutrient pollution continues to increase every year. Dead zones return every summer to the rivers deeper waters, said Joe Anderson, president of the St. Marys River Watershed Association.
Oysters are filter feeders and can remove the pollutants from the water column and place them into the bottom sediments. Without these excess nutrients, oxygen levels will remain stable and life will return to the deep areas of the river.
We all know that the oyster is key to the health of the St. Marys River. Long ago, oysters filtered all of the rivers water every day. If Captain John Smith visited the St. Marys, he would have written in his journal about the clarity of the water and the richness of the resource, Anderson continued.
Is an oyster sanctuary in the upper St. Marys River a good idea? Why pick the St. Marys? These questions and others will be answered Saturday, May 22, by John Griffin, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. His talk will headline the St. Marys River Watershed Associations annual meeting at 4 p.m. at the Muldoon River Center on the campus of St. Marys College of Maryland. This event is free and the public is invited to attend. For more information, go to www.SMRWA.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: St. Mary's River Watershed Association