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« เมื่อ: พฤษภาคม 25, 2010, 08:15:02 PM »

Oyster revival plan disclosed

UNITED STATES
Tuesday, May 25, 2010, 16:30 (GMT + 9)

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley on Friday revealed the details of his plan to refurbish Maryland’s management of declining Chesapeake Bay oyster stocks.

He said the plan focuses on escalating no-harvest sanctuaries, diminishing areas for traditional harvesting and encouraging oyster farming.

"We need to be able to change the way we've been doing things," he stated.

The plans were introduced in December, and since then officials have made adjustments chiefly in response to watermen’s complaints arguing that the state was transforming the best oyster-producing areas into sanctuaries, reports The Annapolis Capital.

For example, watermen currently harvest oysters in Anne Arundel County's waters, where a new oyster sanctuary will be developed in the main area of the Chesapeake Bay, offshore from Cedarhurst down to Chesapeake Beach. According to Tom O'Connell, the director of fisheries at the state Department of Natural Resources, this sanctuary is being created to counterbalance changes in proposed sanctuaries on the Eastern Shore.

Maryland is increasing sanctuaries from 9 per cent of oyster-growing bottom areas to 25 per cent, which could represent a 10-15 per cent loss of income for watermen, he told.

"The 24 per cent they are taking is our most productive bottom, which leaves us with 75 per cent of unproductive bottom. We can't feed our families on unproductive bottom," said Bunky Chance, a waterman from Talbot County, WBOC TV reports.

Effectively closed to oystering, the Magothy River would become a permanent sanctuary. The Severn River, a sanctuary since last year, would remain so, as well as the upper half of the South River.

The bottom half of the South River, the West River and the Rhode River would all remain open to oyster harvesting.

Aquaculture areas would be established in the bay off Anne Arundel's shoreline, but watermen are allowed to harvest there until aquaculture operations become approved by the state.

"We realize these changes are difficult," O'Malley said.

Watermen's groups were not represented at the recent news conference at the Annapolis Maritime Museum, but scientists, environmentalists and a key politician showed their support.

The oyster management changes will be proposed officially as a set of regulations to be reviewed by a special General Assembly committee made up of members from both houses of Congress.

Public hearings may be held in July and the regulations could become law in September before oystering season begins in October.

News of the proposed sanctuary increase comes a month after O'Malley informed that regulations employed on the crab harvesting helped the population grow by 60 per cent -- the highest rise since 1997.

Related article:

- Oystermen support poacher rules, protest sanctuaries

By Natalia Real
editorial@fis.com
www.fis.com

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