Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chesapeake Fresh Oysters - a Southern Maryland Aquaculture Experiment, Round Two

Last Tuesday offered a very interesting chapter in a long story concerning the development of commercial aquaculture and “Chesapeake Fresh Oysters” in Southern Maryland, i.e. “floating oyster beds” anchored in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Some years ago, a local outfit under the name Circle C Oyster Ranch made a go at growing, harvesting and offering for sale oysters from floating beds anchored in St. Jerome’s creek, in Ridge, MD. This “aquaculture” practice was and is popular from a State of Maryland perspective, providing badly-needed water filtration and cleansing services while protecting the slowly recovering natural oyster beds from over-harvesting. The enterprise received many grants and public interest, but eventually withered under negative community relations and mismanagement, along with rejection of permit renewals by the DNR, to become a derelict flotilla of abandoned floating oyster beds with dead oysters, strewn all over the lee shores and native marshlands.

Enter the Chesapeake Fresh Oyster Company, Inc. to the area, with its “new and improved” strategy for community relations, renewed permit applications and new ownership out of Baltimore. At the Leonardtown MD government center, last Tuesday’s public input session held to review the permit renewal brought out the local Ridge landowners and Community Association, as well as the local Health Department, to share information and provide feedback to the new commercial venture.

Chespeake Fresh Oysters, Inc. appears to be headed in the right direction, offering a friendly though tightly-scripted and templated approach to Southern Maryland community relations...complete with all requisite multi-generational and local connections to environmental causes, St. Mary’s college alumni and the token “local waterman” interests – i.e. a long-time Maryland Bay Pilot and family, and Mr. Lore, Chesapeake Fresh Oyster's landlord in Ridge, and the long-time owner of the Airedele road peninsula properties and its oyster harvesting rights (now somewhat distributed among newer riparian owners).

Chesapeake Fresh Oysters, with newly-registered Internet domains under “Save the Oyster Foundation, Inc.” (savetheoyster.org), appears to reflect varied Baltimore-based investment interests including Ray Jackson of Stonewall Capital and Fred Cheek of Shamrock Recycling.

Many questions and concerns remain to be answered following the session, from availability of local water quality data and questions about commercial tax status to riparian rights easements and shoreline cleanup, but it appears the permit approval process will likely move forward without more significant hurdles. So, the jury’s in session now on this great idea and much-needed boost to the Maryland oystering industry and ecological preservation interests - but very sensitive local community relations investment.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Aquaculture Oyster Permit Hearing Announced for St Jerome's Creek St. Mary's County Southern Maryland

Have you seen this? Will result in more garbage on the shore, floating hazards to boaters in St. Jerome's creek, and a significant eyesore to the wetlands. This is associated with the Circle-C Oyster Ranch on Airedele Road, in St. Mary's County.

Pictures of Oyster beds and nets untended, washing up all over the shoreline, killing wetlands plants and interrupting wildlife traffic and patterns

Maryland Department of the Environment
Water Management Administration

Notice of Application for State Wetland Licenses, Private
Wetland Permits or Water Quality Certification and the
Opportunity to Provide Written Comment or Request an
Informational Hearing

The Water Management Administration is reviewing the following
applications for State Wetland Licenses, Private Wetland
Permits and/or Water Quality Certifications. The applications
and related information are on file at the Administration.
Arrangements may be made for inspection and copying of file
materials. Interested parties may provide written comment on
the application or request an informational hearing on any listed
application. A request for a hearing must be in writing and provide
the following information: 1) Name, Address, and Telephone
Number of the person making the request; 2) The identity of any
other person(s) the requestor is representing; and 3) the specific
issues proposed to be considered at the hearing. Please refer to
the case number (i.e., 00-WL-0000) which identifies each application.
Address correspondence to: Tidal Wetlands Division, Water
Management Administration, 1800 Washington Boulevard
Baltimore, Maryland, 21230. Telephone(410) 537-3837. Written
comments or requests for a hearing must be received on or before
April 15, 2011.

St. Mary’s
201160116/11-WL-0466: Chesapeake Fresh Oyster Company
LLC has applied to renew license 97-WL-1431 to emplace oyster
floats measuring 10-feet by 3-feet and 6-feet by 3-feet in two
areas totaling 3.2 acres. Area No. 2 is an irregular shaped 1.9
acres approximately 360-feet long by 340-feet wide located within
a maximum of 445-feet channelward of the mean high water line.
Area No. 3 is an irregular shaped 1.3 acres approximately 600-
feet long by 135-feet wide located within a maximum of 680-feet
channelward of the mean high water line. In addition, the applicant
has applied to emplace oyster floats measuring 10-feet by 3-
feet and 6-feet by 3-feet in an area adjacent to an existing pier.
The area is rectangle shaped and totals 12,540 square feet. The
area to the west of the pier is approximately 209-feet long by 40-
feet wide and the area to the east of the pier is approximately
209-feet long by 20-feet wide located all within a maximum of
209-feet channelward of the mean high water line. The purpose
of this project is to commercially raise and sell oysters. For
more information contact Justin Bereznak at
jbereznak@mde.state.md.us or 410-537-3782. The project is located
on St. Jerome Creek near the eastern end of Airedele Road
near Ridge in St. Mary’s County. A public hearing will be held on
Tuesday, April 12th 2011 at 10:00 A.M. at The Maryland
Governmental Center, 23115 Leonard Hall Road, Rm. 114,
Leonardtown, MD 20650.
ENT 1792263 3-23-11