Oysters in basket

Freshly dredged oysters are collected in a basket.

On the heels of a 35-year high in Maryland’s wild oyster harvest, the state Department of Natural Resources has announced catch regulations will remain unchanged when the 2022–23 season begins Oct. 1.

About 1,200 watermen landed 542,000 bushels of bivalves last season, the biggest haul since the 1986–87 season, according to DNR. It was worth about $21 million dockside.

That was a remarkable rebound for the wild oyster fishery. Just three years earlier, record rains flushed so much freshwater into the Chesapeake Bay that it was hard for oysters to reproduce or grow. Their harvest was about one-fourth as large, and the state for a couple of years reduced harvesting from five days a week to four.

Now, with surveys finding above-average crops of juvenile oysters on Bay and river bottoms, some harvesters wanted to see the daily bushel limits increased a little. Others urged the state to keep the same rules as last season. 

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Tim Wheeler is the Bay Journal's associate editor and senior writer, based in Maryland. You can reach him at 410-409-3469 or twheeler@bayjournal.com.

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