DNR Submits Permit Application to Dredge Shell from Man O War Shoal
As directed by House Bill 103, DNR submitted the permit application to dredge shell from Man O War Shoal. The purpose of this project is to acquire oyster shell that can be used in several ways to restore oyster populations and oyster fisheries in the Bay. Shell may be used to improve existing oyster bars to enhance natural recruitment, to provide a foundation for hatchery-spawned seed oysters deployed to encourage reestablishment of an abundant and self-sustaining oyster population, to provide substrate for leased bottom in support of aquaculture, and to provide substrate needed to sustain oyster fisheries in Maryland. All of these efforts are components of recommendations of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s 2000 Agreement, the Maryland Oyster Advisory Commission, and the 2005 Oyster Management Plan and are necessary to implement the preferred alternative specified in the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Oyster Restoration in Chesapeake Bay Including the Use of a Native and/or Nonnative Oyster (USACE et al. 2009).
A Maryland Geological Survey (MGS) study of the Man-O-War shoal indicated that the shoal comprises between 86 million and 103 million bushels of oyster shell (J. Halka, MGS, pers. comm.). DNR intends ultimately to remove approximately 30% of the available shell (about 30 million bushels) to use primarily to restore oyster habitat and oyster populations for ecological purposes. In response to stakeholders’ concerns about the potential ecological effects of a shell-dredging project of this magnitude, DNR is requesting an initial five-year permit to dredge five million bushels of shell as part of a comprehensive monitoring project to assess the ecological consequences of removing shell from the shoal.
Click here to view a copy of the permit application (8MB in size).
Further information concerning the application can be obtained by contacting Eric Campbell.