Bay Journal

Topics: Fisheries

St. Mary’s County, MD, issues moratorium on use of commercial docks for new aquaculture leases

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Responding to complaints from waterfront homeowners, officials in St. Mary’s County, MD, voted Tuesday to impose a six-month moratorium on using commercial docks to work any new state-issued aquaculture leases that would raise oysters in cages or floats.

“Right at the time when watermen need a real option, we’re about to make it harder for them,” said J.D. Blackwell, owner of 38North Oysters in St. Mary’s County.

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About Fisheries

Acre for acre, the Chesapeake Bay is one of the most productive water bodies on the planet when it comes to fish. Populations of the native striped bass and nonnative blue catfish have risen dramatically in recent decades, while blue crabs appear to be on the road to recovery.

Recent interest in aquaculture has sharply increased commercial production of oysters from the Chesapeake. Nonetheless, problems such as historic overfishing, habitat loss and disease have reduced the abundance of some iconic species such as wild oyster populations, American shad and river herring, American eels and Atlantic sturgeon to near record-low levels. In the headwaters, brook trout have suffered major habitat losses.

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