DOUG BISHOP / The Kent Island Bay Times and the Record-Observer

MD - Oyster Restoration in the Chesapeake Bay: A Model for How We Can Integrate Economic Success into Tackling Environmental Challenges

When I meet new people, I love telling them I live on an island.

Situated in the heart of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, Kent Island has been my lifelong home. Peaceful wetlands, golden shores, vibrant sunsets over the bay; I’m very thankful to have grown up in such a beautiful place. Unfortunately, our wetlands have been built over, our shores have been littered with trash, and our bay has been filled with pollutants. In order to remedy these threats to our livelihood, a multi-faceted approach that considers both the environmental and economic implications of proposed policies and programs is needed.

Maryland has conducted oyster restoration efforts in the bay and its tributaries over the past decade. As of 2020, these efforts are projected to yield both environmental benefits for local aquatic ecosystems and economic benefits for local fisheries. Higher oyster populations result in better-filtered water and attract species such as white perch and our world-famous Maryland blue crabs. Higher crab and fish populations foster more jobs and success for fishermen. Oyster restoration can therefore serve as a win-win from both an environmental and economic perspective.

It is imperative that state and local officials continue to work alongside both environmental groups and advocates for fishermen. Oyster restoration efforts alone will not fix all of the environmental challenges facing the Chesapeake Bay. But, combined with proper fishery management, policies, and programs, the results will almost certainly be positive. There will be cleaner water, more fish, and more of our blue crabs.

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