Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday, July 23, that the state has signed a four-year contract that earmarks a $2 million annual investment in Chesapeake Bay fisheries infrastructure and labor.
â€śOur administration has invested more than $4 billion to enhance, protect, and restore the health and vitality of our cherished Chesapeake Bay,â€ť said Hogan. â€śAs the chair of the Chesapeake Executive Council, I am proud of the progress weâ€™ve made and our shared commitment to take on tomorrowâ€™s challenges.â€ť
The Maryland Department of Transportation has agreed to provide the Department of Natural Resources the funds from the Transportation Trust Fund for ongoing and future industry efforts, including dedicated funding for equipment, labor, material, supervision and support.
The deal includes no less than $925,000 annually pledged to support wild oyster propagation and replenishment efforts through 2023 (five years).
â€śProbably five years ago, we got it to go from $600,000 to $800,000,â€ť said Robert T. Brown, executive director of the Maryland Watermenâ€™s Association. â€śThe other $125,000 that he added to it, thatâ€™s just icing on the cake.â€ť
The Department of Natural Resources will coordinate with county oyster committees and watermen on shared projects and priorities, including the establishment of oyster seed areas, monitoring, sampling, seed and shell plantings, surveying and transplanting.
â€śItâ€™s been something that weâ€™ve worked on for years,â€ť said Robert T. Brown, executive director of the Maryland Watermenâ€™s Association. â€śAnd Jim Mullen from the oyster committee has been working on it, too. Weâ€™ve been talking about going through this contract, and the governor just up and did it on his own.â€ť
The extension was signed and witnessed by the governor on Monday July 16. The Chesapeake Bay Enhancement Program between the Maryland Department of Transportation and Maryland Department of Natural Resources was first signed in 1996.
â€śWorking with our partners and stakeholders, we can help rebuild the oyster population while also improving the health of Chesapeake Bay,â€ť Maryland Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. â€śThis funding will go toward ongoing oyster industry programs and projects, and help design and develop new initiatives that could benefit both the bay and our working watermen.â€ť