National Fisherman


Harold Robinson has made his living out of Wingate Harbor in Dorchester County for all of his good years. He knows every piece of the bottom in the waters he works near Hearns Cove on Chesapeake Bay. At 64, Robinson is one of the last working oystermen around these parts. And he knows his days on the water are numbered. Not for nothing has he called his boat Limited — a reference to the restrictions the state has placed on what and when watermen can harvest.

"They get you back to the wall, where it's just so hard to make a living," Robinson said as he stopped in the marina's office to get a part for his boat. "Some winters, we didn't even work at all."

The ranks of oystermen in Maryland have long been dwindling. But now the harbors and marinas that once housed their boats are going, too.

Maryland and Virginia have lost dozens of working marinas, oyster-shucking houses, crab-picking places and boat repair shops during the last half-century. Some marina owners sold to developers, unable to make a living from the few remaining oystermen who docked there. Others couldn't afford to repair damages from ever more severe storms as sea level rose. Still others simply couldn't afford or didn't want to spend money on the

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