Opinion: Maryland's leaders have the facts to make meaningful changes to oyster fishery

Maryland’s new oyster stock assessment confirms what many conservationists have long suspected — that the state’s oyster population is in dire need of new management.

At more than 300-pages, the report represents the most comprehensive assessment of Maryland’s oyster population ever completed. Its chief finding is that the adult oyster population in the state has declined by more than half in the past two decades dropping from 600 million in 1999 to 300 million in 2018.

The report also found oysters are being overharvested in nearly half of the harvest areas in Maryland’s portion of the Bay. In some areas, such as the Choptank and Chester rivers, oyster harvesting is only possible because of state-funded shell and oyster plantings. Unless replanting efforts remain significant enough to support fishing, these areas will become depleted of oysters.

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