Maryland watermen have experienced five years in a row of meager oyster harvests. And this season, which ended late last month, proved no exception. The yield remains in the vicinity of 400,000 bushels. Twenty years ago, the harvests each year ran in excess of 3 million bushels.
Parasitic disease has taken a dreadful toll on the oyster. Two persistent infections, MSX and Dermo, have made their way up the bay in recent years, greatly affecting Chesapeake oysters. These bivalves also seem to be adversely affected by the bay's declining health caused by pollution and overfishing.
Recently, the Virginia Marine Resources Institute called on Gov. L. Douglas Wilder to impose a three-year moratorium on oystering in the Chesapeake. That was identical to the recommendation of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Give the oysters a chance to recover from the parasites and from pollution, the groups said.