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Author Topic: Save Man-O-war shoals (Chesapeake Bay)from being dredged.  (Read 512 times)
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evinrude 130
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« on: February 24, 2019, 07:56:30 PM »

Seems the MD DNR want to dredge the Man-O-War shoals . According to the BC waterman's president the shoals helped save the crabbing season for them.  I've fished this area and it produces rock and white perch .  I've seen floats there in the latter part of the crab season.  

Chris Dollar: Keep oyster shells on Man-O-War Shoal

Man O War Shoals in the upper Bay is a favorite bottom fishing spot for sport anglers. The live bottom area is targeted for oyster shell dredging, but opponents are pushing for legislation to protect it. (CD Outdoors / Capital Gazette)

By Chris D. Dollar
[email protected]

February 24, 2019, 6:05 AM

Legendary shark fisherman Capt. Frank Mundus, who some believe was the inspiration behind Jaws’ Capt. Quint, reportedly often used the phrase “happy horse poop” to describe ridiculous and dubious comments or intentions. Except he didn’t use the word ‘poop.’ And since this is a family newspaper, you’ll have to fill in the blank.

It’s one of my favorite phrases, and I thought of it when I heard that the Department of Natural Resources, once again, wants to move forward with plans to dredge oyster shells on Man-O- War shoals. This area of live bottom, the largest relic oyster reef in the upper Chesapeake lies a short boat ride east southeast from the Patapsco River in Baltimore County.

DNR’s plan calls for removing as much as five million bushels of shell from the middle portion of the shoal over a five-year period, with potentially excavating as many as 30 million bushels in the long-term. Supporters of the plan want to use the shell for oyster restoration, basically on put-and-take bars, in locations further down the Bay. They argue cutting swaths—five on the south side and five on the north side — won’t negatively effect the shoal.

Opponents counter the incisions will accelerate decomposition of the shoals’ core, and thus exposing it to constant tidal flows that most likely would erode the natural relief, forever changing the oyster bar’s relief that attracts white perch, catfish.  
Currently, bills that would nix the state’s plans, effectively preserving Man-O-War as it is now, are making their way through the state legislature’s committee process. A mix of groups, including CCA MD and CBF but also the Baltimore County Watermen’s Association, have come together in support of these legislative measures. The Man-O-War dredging project is part of the DNR’s overall oyster strategy. Some legislators and conservationists, however, would like to separate out Man-O-War as a standalone issue and focus on the overarching, long-term goals of restoring the Bay’s natural oyster reefs primarily for its ecological function. Knowing what we know about the Bay’s depleted natural oyster reefs, spending money, energy and resources on accelerating oystering farming seems the better path to me.

The other day I spoke with Blair Baltus, who is the president of Baltimore County Watermen’s Association as well as a board member of the Maryland Watermen’s Association. He says the state’s plan is ill-conceived, and would do irreparable harm to the commercial crab harvest in the upper Chesapeake.

“Man-O-War shoals is the only natural oyster reef left in Baltimore County,” he says, and carving up the reef would negatively impact the crab pot fleet and the thirty crab houses in Baltimore County that rely on its area waters to earn a living. He adds, “Man-O-War shoals saved us (upper Bay crabbers) this past fall’’ — meaning crabbers were able to catch crabs because the varying bottom contour helped mitigate the effects record flooding had on water quality.

There are a number of things Gov. Hogan’s DNR has done that have earned my support. Digging up Man-O-War shoals isn’t one of them. With due respect, stop trying already; enough is enough. It was a dumb idea 10 years ago, it’s a dumb idea now, and it’ll still be dumb idea next year and the year after that. Any economic benefit this proposed project would provide to a relatively small number of oystermen is far outweighed by value Man-O-War has for upper Bay crabbers and sport anglers. And perhaps most importantly, the ecological deficit dredging would create for a Chesapeake in crisis that needs all the help it can get, isn’t worth it
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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2019, 08:22:07 PM »

I went to the meeting on it a few winters ago at Sparrows Point High school. There were a few hundred of us there. Everyone protested it. They want millions of bushels of oyster shells from the shoals to plant more oyster beds for sanctuarys that will wind up being harvested in a few years as always. Why did they wait until oyster populations got to 1% of what they once were before they were worried about it? Once the dead oyster shell are gone the fish and crabs leave the area.  They ripped up all the shoals off Pools Island and others as well and nothing got accomplished except the marine life disappeared. It would be devastating . Everyone has seen this movie before.


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