ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announces new commercial oyster harvesting regulations for the coming season. One key change is watermen will be able to work five days a week eliminating the Wednesday layover which had been in place for two years.
Unchanged will be bushel limits for commercial harvesting. They are 12 bushels per day per licensee not to exceed 24 bushels per boat for hand tongers and divers, and 10 bushels per day per licensee or 20 bushels per boat per day for those using a power dredge.
Those dredging on a skipjack under sail may harvest 100 bushels per day with that also being the maximum per boat.
Those on the water for recreational purposes are being allowed double their allotted days, from three to six with Sundays off, and the recreational catch limit will be 100 oysters per person per day.
Market-sized oysters and spat were found to be greatest in the lower bay, including Tangier Sound and the Choptank River, although environmental groups like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation warned the state of overharvesting by expanding the number of days.
DNR will be testing its electronic monitoring equipment to track and report on oyster harvesting each day for a given area, something the CBF endorsed.
Oyster season starts Oct. 1 for shaft and patent tongers and divers, and Nov. 1 for power and sail dredge boats and runs through March 2022.