about south river federation


The Hogan Administration faces the tough challenge of managing oysters both for watermen and for the largest stakeholder in the state: Marylanders. The Federation believes the Hogan Administration should continue meaningful projects to expand healthy, protected oyster reefs, and should keep sanctuary reefs off-limits to harvest.


  • In 2010 Maryland adopted a science-based, 10-point plan to increase the oyster population.  Three key parts of the plan were: harvest oysters sustainably through scientific management, protect and expand areas of no harvest, and encourage robust oyster aquaculture.
  • For oysters to recover in Maryland waters at least 24 percent of productive oyster bars must be protected as ‘sanctuaries’ where no harvesting is allowed.
  • The plan called for targeting five sanctuary bars for major oyster plantings. Scientists said such mega-bars provide the best hope for oyster reproduction, and for learning how oyster reefs function.
  • The plan was meant to benefit everyone. More oysters overall will mean a healthier Chesapeake Bay, cleaner water, habitats for fish and other aquatic life, and an improved livelihood for oystermen. Some experts estimate that we could have 10 billion additional oysters in the Chesapeake by 2025 if we stick to our plan.


  • The Hogan Administration also has expressed its openness to allowing oysters to be harvested from sanctuary reefs that currently are off-limits to harvest. So the Administration could curtail oyster restoration in two ways – defund Maryland’s existing program to build up sanctuary reefs, and allow harvesting in sanctuaries.


  • The Hogan Administration is listening to watermen, but not the public. The Administration has appointed an Oyster Advisory Commission to recommend changes in oyster management. The board is comprised largely of watermen, and elected officials and others who are sympathetic to the desires of the commercial seafood industry. The board contains a minority of environmentalists and academics.
  • The Hogan Administration wants to increase oyster harvesting, but it doesn’t seem to want to help oysters recover generally. Members of the Hogan Administration have said publicly that Governor Hogan wants “minimal investment” in helping oyster restoration in Maryland.


  • Tell the Administration: We want to continue to invest in oyster reef restoration. Three of the mega reef projects already are well underway. Let’s continue to invest in a sustainable oyster fishery.
  • Tell the Administration: don’t compromise our protection of oysters. The Hogan Administration must leave at least 24 percent of reefs as ‘sanctuaries’ off-limits to harvest. No sanctuaries should be opened to harvest
  • In selecting the next two Bay tributaries for oyster restoration investment, the Administration should pick one tributary that is in a lower salinity range where restoration has a good chance of success because of lower disease risk, and one in high salinity. We know oysters can thrive in the Severn, South, and other rivers. Also, many of these tributaries have ‘oyster gardeners’ and other residents who have a vested interest in the oyster’s recovery. There are multiple scientific, educational, and communication benefits to locating at least one “targeted tributary” in a population center rather than in a more remote area. For example, incidents of poaching should be lower where more eyes are watching.


Learn more about what you can do to advocate for oyster restoration in the South River here.