From: Kenneth R. Binni
Chesapeake Appreciation Inc.
In response to a recently issued Chesapeake Bay Foundation State of the Bay report titled, "Turning the Tide," Chesapeake AppreciationInc. takes a strong position against a proposed three-year moratorium on oyster harvesting.
Chesapeake Appreciation Inc. was formed topromote Chesapeake Appreciation Days, held each year on the last weekend of October to pay tribute to the skipjack fleet and the working watermen of the bay.
Over the years, the number of skipjacks working the bay has dwindled, and to place a moratorium on oystering couldmean the end of the remaining fleet and cost hundreds of jobs in theoystering and ancillary industries that respond to the harvesting and marketing of seafood, not to mention to impact on tourism and restaurant industries.
In recent years, bay oystermen and the skipjack fleet have harvested approximately 400,000 bushels per year, comparedto several million bushels over a decade ago. The decline in the amount of oysters harvested is due to the decline in the water quality, not over-harvesting.
Larry Simns, president of the Maryland Waterman's Association and a member of the Chesapeake Appreciation Inc. board, is quoted as saying, "Maryland's watermen have continually foughtsuch moratoriums and oppose regulations, legislation or proposals which are unfair or single out the commercial watermen, while supporting (regulations) that will help the species, the bay and the watermen who make their living on it."
Watermen, the skipjacks and the bay seafood they harvest are a big part of the state's image and the economy. A moratorium on oyster harvesting in the Chesapeake Bay is unthinkable. It is time the finger is pointed in the right direction to the source of the problem: development runoff, industrial wastes and inadequate sewage treatment plants.
Efforts and energies should be focused in replenishing the oyster stocks by improved seed and shell planting programs instead of closing down a whole industry, a tradition and a way of life.