Governor Larry Hogan announced today that the Maryland Department of Transportation and Maryland Department of Natural Resources have entered into a new agreement that will provide millions of dollars for ongoing oyster activities in Chesapeake Bay.
“Our administration has invested more than $4 billion to enhance, protect, and restore the health and vitality of our cherished Chesapeake Bay,” said Governor Hogan said. “As the chair of the Chesapeake Executive Council, I am proud the progress we’ve made and our shared commitment to take on tomorrow’s challenges.”
The new four-year agreement will provide $2 million annually from the Transportation Trust Fund to the Department of Natural Resources for ongoing and future industry efforts, including dedicated funding for equipment, labor, material, supervision and support.
“The Chesapeake Bay is a great source of business to both the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore and the oyster industry,” said Deputy Transportation Secretary Jim Ports. “Thanks to our partnership with the Department of Natural Resources, this new oyster restoration agreement provides even more money directly to Maryland watermen to ensure a sustainable oyster industry for years to come.”
The extension was signed by Deputy Secretary Ports and Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton – witnessed by Governor Hogan – following the dedication of the recently reconstructed Cambridge Marine Wharf, located near Sailwinds Park. The dedication and signing ceremony was part of Governor Hogan’s Mid-Shore Regional Cabinet Meeting that covered Caroline, Dorchester and Talbot counties.
“Working with our partners and stakeholders, we can help rebuild the oyster population while also improving the health of Chesapeake Bay,” Maryland Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “This funding will go toward ongoing oyster industry programs and projects, and help design and develop new initiatives that could benefit both the bay and our working watermen.”
Increased funding will go toward oyster propagation and replenishment efforts through 2023 with no less than $925,000 annually going to support the wild oyster fishery, with the Department of Natural Resources coordinating with county oyster committees and watermen on shared projects and priorities, including the establishment of oyster seed areas, monitoring, sampling, seed and shell plantings, surveying and transplanting.
The Chesapeake Bay Enhancement Program between the Maryland Department of Transportation and Maryland Department of Natural Resources was first signed in 1996.