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Franks Reiterates DNR’s Position On Asian Oysters
ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary C. Ronald Franks today issued a statement in response to the Delaware and New Jersey fish and wildlife agencies’ press release expressing concern over the potential introduction of nonnative, or asian oysters, Crassostrea ariakensis, into the Chesapeake Bay.
“While we have great respect for our sister states and their perspectives on this and all Chesapeake Bay issues, they have not been intimately involved in this process, and therefore it is premature and alarmist for them to issue a call for us to stop all research for what exists today as a potential idea. We have made no decision, we are waiting for the research to be completed,” Franks said.
Currently Maryland, Virginia and the Corps of Engineers are pursuing a deliberate, comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement that focuses on 12 issues, including:
This new research will supplement years of existing research on the nonnative Crassostrea ariakensis by notable scientists from around the world. Virginia alone has been studying the C. ariakensis since 1996 and in 2004 placed approximately 1 million sterile oysters in Virginia’s waters. The nonnative oyster being studied has been in Oregon waters for more than 30 years.
- Is the nonnative oyster a threat to the native species?
- If introduced, would a nonnative oyster overwhelm the native species?
- Does the nonnative oyster carry pathogens, parasites and diseases that can harm the bay?
- If introduced, can the nonnative oyster expand beyond the Chesapeake Bay?
This research is expected to be completed in the next 60-90 days; the partners will then reconvene to seek scientific consensus to determine if the research that has been conducted by that point provides a sufficient scientific basis to make a decision regarding a preferred alternative. Only then can it be determined if there are enough facts to make a sound, science-based decision on the best alternative for oyster restoration. The Ehrlich Administration has repeatedly said that it will NOT proceed if there are unacceptable risks.
In an effort to expand the pool of knowledge and expertise available to Maryland and Virginia when the EIS data is presented, the states have also created an Independent Oyster Advisory Panel of impartial national and internationally renowned researchers and scientists. This inclusive, comprehensive, non-partisan group represents a broad range of scientific proficiency including members of the National Research Council Committee on non-native oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.
The panel’s mission will be twofold: they will first review our scientific data to ensure we have adequate research and information to make a decision on any or all of the oyster restoration alternatives under consideration. If the answer is yes, they will help us determine the best alternative(s). If the answer is no, they will help us determine what additional research is necessary, and an appropriate timeline for it.
For complete information on Maryland’s position on oysters, visit the DNR Website InFocus page: http://www.dnr.state.md.us/dnrnews/infocus/non-native_oyster.asp
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to Maryland citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 435,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, as well as Maryland's wildlife and fishery species for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, the department manages natural, historic and cultural resources that attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov