Shellfish Fisheries Closed due to Rainwater Impact on Oysters

The Bay’s shellfish fisheries open October 1 for tonging, but two Somerset County fisheries will remain closed through the month. Photo: Jay Fleming

Watermen are going to miss out on oysters in two fisheries on Maryland’s lower Eastern Shore this month. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced the two fisheries in Somerset County, which include part of Area 41 and all of Area 43, are closed from opening day, October 1, until October 31.

The Somerset County Oyster Commission requested the DNR secretary close the fisheries because they worried that the influx of fresh water could slow oyster growth, and undersized oysters would be harvested.

The entire Bay has seen an increase in fresh water and record water flows from a series of late-summer storms. Extra fresh water lowers the salinity of Bay waterways, which can stunt the growth of oysters. Delaying the opening of the fisheries will give DNR a chance to assess the oysters there and decide if they’re legal to harvest. The minimum size for oysters is three inches.

The portion of Public Shellfish Fishery Area 41 that lies within Somerset County is located south of the channel. The closed area will be marked by buoys. Area 43 includes Tangier Sound.

For any questions or comments contact Chris Judy, DNR Shellfish Division, at 443-223-0472.

-Meg Walburn Viviano