ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is considering clarifying the culling rule for oysters.
According to DNR, “The changes under consideration would make it clear to all affected parties which oysters must be returned to the oyster bar, which oysters may be retained, and which oysters would be included in the calculation of the percentage of undersized oysters,” which DNR adds is no more than 5% shell and oysters less than allowable size.
Specifically, a harvester may possess an oyster which is larger than 1 inch and less than 3 inches in length from hinge to bill if attached to a market-sized oyster “in such a way that the undersized oyster cannot be separated from the market-sized oyster without being destroyed.”
The harvester is still required to separate undersized oysters which can be removed without being destroyed and returned to the oyster bar “from which they were taken.”
“Historically, Maryland was home to many oyster shucking houses. Oysters would often be shucked in relatively close proximity to where they had been harvested and the shells of the shucked oysters would be returned to the water. This meant that any small oysters which were attached to market-sized oysters were also returned to the water to continue to grow.
“Given this historical context, it makes sense to allow harvesters to retain undersized oysters that were attached so closely to market-sized oysters that the undersized oyster could not be removed without being destroyed,” DNR states.
The department is also defining “undersized oyster” and “spat” so the syntax of the sentence is clearer. Additionally, DNR is clarifying that market-sized oysters may not be included in the measurement of any undersized oysters (i.e., in the cull cup). These changes will result in clearer rules with greater enforceability while adhering to the historical intent of the law.
The proposal is expected to have minimal to no impact on watermen. There is no federal standard on this and no public hearing has been scheduled.
To View the Summary and Complaince Guide or View the proposal click those link. Comments may be submitted through the Comment Form no later than 11:59 p.m. August 15, 2022. Those not online may send comments to: Oyster Culling Clarifications, Regulatory Staff, Department of Natural Resources, Fishing and Boating Services, 580 Taylor Avenue, E4, Annapolis, MD 21401, or call 410-260-8300.