March 21, 2014
STEVENSVILLE — Watermen from Kent, Queen Anne’s and Dorchester counties want to plant fresh shells for oyster spawning season and clean oyster bars, but they’re having a hard time doing it.
“All we want to do is spend our own money. We’re not asking the state for a penny, and they’re really fighting us on this,” Kent County Watermen’s Association President Chuck White said.
Emergency legislation was introduced last week that would require the Department of Natural Resources to authorize county oyster committees to purchase up to 400,000 bushels of fresh oyster shells that haven’t gone through hatchery production.
Currently, Sen. Richard Colburn, R-37-Mid-Shore, said DNR only allows county oyster committees to buy shells from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory, the hatchery that works hand in hand with DNR on oyster production.
However, Horn Point only has about 60,000 bushels of oyster shells available, and watermen want to buy more than the laboratory has for their own shell seeding program they want to do in the Eastern Bay.