Science-based fishery management is absolutely critical to achieving the Chesapeake 10 Billion Oysters Partnership's ambitious goal.
Because approximately 75 percent of the Bay's bottom is open to commercial harvest, sustainable management of these bars is critical to recovering the oyster population.
At present, there has been no assessment of the oyster stock in Maryland or Virginia, leading to challenges in managing the population. Science-based management, including periodic stock assessments, should be employed with a goal of substantially increasing the number of oysters maintained on public bars.
Fishery replenishment activities in Maryland and Virginia plant millions of baby oysters on harvest bars each year. While these oysters grow to market size, they provide important ecosystem benefits, including water filtration and nutrient removal.
To maintain a sustainable oyster fishery, it will be particularly important to devise a funding system that can make critical, strategic, up-front investments in bottom rehabilitation and spat-on-shell planting that will make the industry self-supporting and profitable in the long-term.