ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Maryland will begin taking applications for new aquaculture leases in oyster sanctuaries next month.
The Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday that it will begin taking applications Aug. 1. DNR officials say oyster aquaculture will help restoration efforts and Chesapeake Bay water quality by creating additional habitat for oysters, whose filter feeding cleans bay water. Leaseholders will have a natural interest in improving water quality because of their investment of time and money.
The leases are part of a state effort to restore the oyster population by putting 25 percent of oyster reefs off limits to
harvesting and increasing sanctuaries and aquaculture. Leases will be prohibited within 150 feet of historic oyster bars and limited to 10 percent of sanctuary acreage. Critics say the plan will threaten watermen’s incomes.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)