Senate passes bill to slow timetable for introducing Asian oysters into bay

General Assembly

March 18, 2005|By Rona Kobell | Rona Kobell,SUN STAFF

The Maryland Senate passed a bill yesterday intended to slow down the Ehrlich administration's timetable for deciding whether to put Asian oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.

The bill would require the Department of Natural Resources to do research set forth in a 2004 report by the National Academy of Sciences, conduct public hearings and make public its rationale for its decision.

The academy's report recommended five to seven years of research, but Ehrlich administration officials have said they will decide by this summer, after about a year of study.

The Senate bill would not require a specific length of time for further research, but Sen. Brian E. Frosh, a sponsor, said it would make sure that the department proceeds only with the scientists' blessing. "It just says, `When you have the scientists satisfied, go ahead. But not until then,'" said Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat.

The bill now goes to the House of Delegates.

Many scientists have criticized the state's aggressive timetable, but administration officials say Maryland must move quickly to restore oysters to the bay, to help filter its waters and give watermen a crop.

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