ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — A major push to bring oysters back to the bay has been placed on hold by the Hogan administration.
Alex DeMetrick reports backers of oyster restoration worry one project put on hold could spread to others.
Millions have been spent to build oyster sanctuaries in rivers feeding the bay. The first step is laying down an artificial reef and that’s hwat’s been put on hold in teh Tred Avon River.
“There was a huge outcry,” said Tom Zolper, Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
Backers of oyster restoration, like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, don’t like the direction the Hogan administration is going.
“We don’t know whether this delay is limited to one project on the Eastern Shore or whether the administration has decided to delay all oyster restoration,” Zolper said.
Baby oysters attached to shells are scattered off the artificial reefs. They are off limits to fishing in sanctuaries to give oysters a chance to build up immunity to diseases that ravaged their numbers.
The Hogan administration is questioning how well it’s working.
“This is breaking new ground; this is science nobody else is doing. So it makes sense to pause, see if what we have so far, if it’s working, if it needs to be adjusted,” said Dave Goshorn, Department of Natural Resources. “So that’s the purpose of this delay.”
Oyster sanctuaries have long been a contentious issue for watermen. That’s because the sanctuaries are prime fishing grounds. And with Hogan listening to their complaints, any new reefs will have to wait for the completion of a study in July.
Backers of oyster restoration plan to lobby Governor Hogan to lift his hold.