Recent News


Smith Islanders Mobilize Against Questionable Oyster Sanctuary Projects 
in Local Rivers: 

December 18, 2017

This Petition was recently circulated, widely endorsed by local residents and submitted to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, DNR Secretary Mark Belton, State and local elected officials and various watermen associations.  For more information, contact Dory Matarazzo (


Maryland Announces Comprehensive Oyster Restoration Plan

December 15, 2017

Breton Bay and St. Mary’s River Selected for Large-Scale Restoration;
State Pledges Investment in Manokin, Nanticoke and Severn Sanctuaries

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources today announced a comprehensive plan on oyster restoration, including its intention to recommend Breton Bay and the upper St. Mary’s River as the fourth and fifth tributaries to satisfy the state’s commitment to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement goal of restoring native oyster habitat and populations in five tributaries by 2025.

The department’s selection complements ongoing large-scale oyster restoration activities in Harris Creek, the Little Choptank River and the Tred Avon River.

“Maryland is committed to restoring the oyster population throughout the Chesapeake Bay for both ecological and economic reasons,” Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “This keystone species builds the foundation of a healthy marine ecosystem, cleaning and filtering water, while also serving as the backbone of our fisheries-based economy, be it aquaculture or commercial harvesting.”

The recommendations will be shared with the Maryland Oyster Restoration Interagency Workgroup, which includes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The department will also gather input from citizens, communities and stakeholders in an open and transparent public comment process.

Breton Bay intends to be restored with the assistance of the state’s federal partners while work in the upper section of the St. Mary’s River would be conducted by the state. All contracts for seed planting and substrate placement in the final two restoration sites will be competitively bid.

“These restoration recommendations strike the right balance between the environment and the economy by concentrating limited yet targeted resources on existing sanctuaries with the most potential for success, based on the best available science,” Belton said. “These two sites have the broad support of environmentalists and riverkeepers as well as county leaders and watermen.”

Along with its restoration selections, the state also plans to study and survey existing state oyster sanctuaries around Annapolis and the Lower Eastern Shore. For the first time, the department will design and develop oyster management plans for the Manokin, Nanticoke and Severn rivers to determine how the strategic use of state investment and resources, including seed, shell and spat, could spur natural oyster growth and reproduction.

Lastly, the department intends to move forward with developing a rotational harvest system, designating a seed study area, and renewing the state’s oyster shell collection and recycling programs.

The state’s oyster restoration plan was formed, in part, from feedback from the Oyster Advisory Commission, which includes academics, conservationists, legislators and watermen.

Articles of Note

Oyster Prices Drop, Watermen Take a Hit, Offer Solution,
WBOC, TV-16, December 6, 2017

DFA Weighs in for NOAA Administator Nominee

‘Nobody anticipated’ oysters making a comeback; industry transforms
The (Salisbury, Md.) Daily Times, November 20, 2017

Trump Administration dives into fish fight
The Associated Press, November 21, 2017

US regulators boost Atlantic menhaden catch limits by 8%
undercurrent news, November 14, 2017

Watermen Happy for Small Win over Menhaden Regulation
WBOC16 TV, November 14, 2017

Fishery managers reject – for now – bid to manage menhaden for their ecological value
Bay Journal, November 14, 2017

Was Virginia wronged in a decision to raise quota for a fish called manhaden?
The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot, November 15, 2017

Oyster Restoration Hurting Watermen Boats
WBOC16 TV, November 15, 2017

Advancing Progress in NOAA’s Habitat Focus Areas
NOAA’s network of Habitat Focus Areas (HFAs) tackle a wide range of habitat issues, including reducing sediment and nutrient runoff, improving coral health, restoring salmon habitat, and preventing the spread of invasive species. Look back at several completed and ongoing keystone projects in Habitat Focus Areas in 2017 – including the Choptank River HFA in Dorchester County.


Recent correspondence from Virginia State Senator Richard Stuart to the Atlantic State’s Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) concerning Atlantic menhaden and pending Amendment 3 (10/31/17)

DFA Encourages DNR Secretary to Look Out For Maryland’s Menhaden Fishery
DFA corresponded this week with DNR Secretary Mark Belton about the upcoming ASMFC meeting and pending Amendment 3 concerning Atlantic menhaden.  See the Letter to Secretary Mark Belton and ASMFC Amendment 3 Fact Sheet.




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