The recent veto by Governor Larry Hogan of Senate Bill 830 and House Bill 720 is a wise decision by our governor. This bill not only delays the Maryland Department of Natural Resources from implementing the new oyster management plan of 2019, but also is in direct violation of the Open Meetings Act.
The legislative body of Maryland, which was led to believe by those in the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Coastal Conservation Association that these bills would work for the betterment of the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay, were mislead. The information that both of these organizations submitted was untrue and misleading. Our own Department of Natural Resources was even forbidden to testify on the Senate side to supply information that would have redirected comments from these two so-called environmental groups.
We all know that the CBF and the CCA want to curtail all commercial harvesting of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay and replace it with aquaculture. This is a fact and they have said on record. Both of these bills were created by these environmental groups as an end run effort with the legislative body because they didn’t get what they wanted in the Oyster Future’s two-year program.
Hopefully, the legislative body of Maryland will be well educated about these two environmental groups before session convenes again next year and will see the truth in where their agenda lays. It’s very easy to go after the waterman when you have millions of dollars to lobby politicians. We waterman unfortunately can only express our long-term experience and many years on the water and also use the science supplied by the Department of Natural Resources when allowed.
Now is the time to let the waterman do what they do best in restoring the oysters of the Chesapeake Bay. All of us in the seafood industry would like to see a good report card for the Bay, and not the continued low score that the CBF and other environmental groups give it just to keep the money coming into their pockets. After all, we make a living from the Chesapeake Bay and don’t want to see it go away. The CBF makes their money off the Chesapeake Bay and if it gets better their money will decrease.
CAPT. ROBERT NEWBERRY
Chairman, Delmarva Fisheries Association Inc.