December 2015 • Volume 14, Number 4
Holding an oyster underwater. Credit: Jay Fleming
Photograph: Jay Fleming
Oyster aquaculture in Maryland has changed more in the past decade than it has in the past two centuries. Farming oysters usually requires space along the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay — and that space, until recently, was hard to come by in Maryland. During the 19th and 20th centuries, oyster farming businesses were not welcome in most of Maryland's waters. The best Bay bottom was protected as a commons for wild harvesting of oysters. But that changed in 2009: the Maryland general Assembly passed legislation that swept away long-standing restrictions limiting private leases of Bay bottom. The state then began promoting an expansion of oyster farming.  more . . .
Ted Cooney and his partners. Credit: Madhouse Oysters
In 2012, Ted Cooney got one million oysters in mesh bags the size of a cantaloupe and started an oyster farming business. The system he planned to use was still somewhat new in Maryland waters: he would pack oysters in cages for most of their growing time. His approach would prove more difficult than he expected.  more . . .
Bamboo poles and a small sign. Credit:  Michael W. Fincham
In the late 1970s, oyster farmers along the Nanticoke River learned to work around restrictions against private bottom leases, and the river soon held 25 percent of all oyster leases in Maryland. As new techniques began raising hopes for better harvests, disease outbreaks suddenly shut down farming in the mid-1980s. Thirty years later, oyster farming is rebounding in this river.  more . . .
Lieutenant Art Windemuth standing looking at camera. Credit: Michael W. Fincham
Officers with Maryland's Natural Resources Police hear many stories about one persistent problem oyster farmers face: poaching. A crime easy to commit, but difficult to prosecute.  more . . .
Max Chambers. Credit: Merrill Leffler
An ancient fishery feud still simmers in Maryland: should the state support wild harvest on public oyster grounds or encourage farming on private, leased bottom areas?  more . . .
Daniel Pendick. Credit: Stephen Cherry
Maryland Sea Grant has a new science writer. Daniel Pendick will cover Bay science and the education and community outreach efforts of the program's Extension specialists.  more . . .
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