By Guy Leonard, St. Mary's County Times
HOLLYWOOD, MD.—A local aquaculture operation, Hollywood Oyster located on the banks of Hog Neck Creek in Hollywood, is seeking to expand its oyster growing operation into new nearby waters but some are protesting, saying it infringes on the ability of watermen to fish and crab freely.
Hollywood Oyster wants to start a new oyster farming operation just north of their current lease with more underwater acreage in Sotterley Creek. The proposed lease would be 3.3 acres.
In a letter to the states Department of Natural Resources, Lexington Park resident Edward Ruskowsky stated that watermen have historically used trot lines in the waters between Greenwell State Park and Sotterley Plantation, the waters in question, and that they have been steadily pushed away from prime territory due to the presence of underwater oyster cages.
For the past several years local watermen have coexisted with the aquaculture business by repositioning trotlines beyond the oyster cages and barriers, Ruskowsky stated. Initially watermen had ample space to trotline, but over the past two years the Hollywood Oyster Company has expanded operations into Hog Neck Creek and the area between Hog Neck Creek and Sotterley Creek to the point that watermen have been unable to lay a single line.
Caleb Marshall, production manager at the Hollywood Oyster operation, said trot lining would be restricted from the new lease but that eventually both watermen and the aquaculture operation would be winners.
Its typical, Marshall said of such complaints. But having oysters there brings more crabs into the creek.
You can run a trot line five feet on the other side [of the lease property line] and there are going to be lots of crabs there.
We have to coexist.