OysterFutures: the conclusion is consensus

Consensus, after 150 years of conflict — in just two years!

We are so grateful to the OysterFutures stakeholders for the hard work and valuable time that they spent developing their consensus recommendations available here. Our press release gives an overview of the OysterFutures research project and the stakeholders’ recommendations. Many, many thanks to all involved!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

OysterFutures in the news!

Many thanks to Tim Wheeler for writing such a wonderful article in the Bay Journal about the OysterFutures process! Check out his article here.

We also are grateful to Amy Lu of WBOC who produced a great segment called Industry Leaders Compromise for Oyster Futures available here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

OysterFutures reaches consensus!

Excellent news: the OysterFutures stakeholders reached consensus! The stakeholders held their final meeting last weekend and successfully reached consensus on a package of recommendations to Maryland Department of Natural Resources. They will submit their recommendations to Secretary Mark Belton at the end of April, with public roll out in May. We will post the recommendations here as soon as they go public. We are so grateful for the outstanding work of the OysterFutures stakeholders, and so pleased and proud that we could support them. Thank you for your interest and kind words throughout the process! – OysterFutures team OF StakeholdersMarch24, 2OF Whole Group March 24 DSC07347

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Successful eighth workgroup meeting!

Thank you everyone who participated in the OysterFutures workgroup meeting this Sunday and helped make it such a success! We really appreciate your involvement in OysterFutures. We’re looking forward to our next and final meeting on March 23-24 at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science​ Horn Point Lab. See you then!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

OysterFutures made the front page of the Star Democrat!

Many thanks to the Talbot County Council for their invitation to share with them about the OysterFutures goals and collaborative process during their meeting this past Tuesday. We appreciate the hard work and dedication of our OysterFutures stakeholders throughout this process, and we are excited to see what management recommendations for the Choptank and Little Choptank they suggest as the project comes to a close this spring.

The full article has been made available by Harold-Mail Media. Click the link below to read!


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

January workgroup meeting at Horn Point Lab

Despite the blizzard that plowed through the eastern shore, we had a full room of stakeholders on Saturday at the seventh OysterFutures workgroup meeting! Thank you everyone who was able to participate this weekend and help make the meeting such a success. We really appreciate your efforts to be involved in OysterFutures! Our next workgroup meeting will be on Sunday, February 4th. See you then!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sixth OysterFutures workgroup meeting

Thank you everyone for making it out on a chilly Veterans day weekend for the sixth OysterFutures workgroup meeting at Horn Point Lab! We look forward to seeing you again January 5-6 for the next meeting. Until then, stay warm!

For more information about OysterFutures, visit our Facebook page here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Successful July workgroup meeting at Horn Point Lab

Thanks to all who made it out to our fifth workgroup meeting July 22-23 at University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Lab! It was a very productive two days. Looking forward to seeing all of our stakeholders and supporters again September 9-10 for the next meeting!


For other updates on the OysterFutures project, visit the OysterFutures Facebook page. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Strategizing a more sustainable oyster future

In an effort to better manage the oyster populations throughout the Choptank and Little Choptank rivers on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, oyster industry stakeholders congregated for their fourth workgroup meeting at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Lab on March 24 – 25. It was a very productive two days!

The fifth workgroup meeting is scheduled for May 20 – 21, followed by the sixth and final workgroup meeting in mid-July.


Thanks again everyone. We look forward to seeing you again in May!

For updates on the OysterFutures project, visit OysterFutures.wordpress.com or the OysterFutures Facebook page. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A nice summary of where we’re at

OysterFutures project brings industry, managers together to discuss future

Scientists from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science are part of a unique project designed to strategize new ways to manage an old industry. With the fate of the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster population in question, stakeholders ranging from watermen to environmentalists hope to look past any differences to reach a common goal—enhance the shellfish resource and fishery.

This is the OysterFutures project, a five-year undertaking funded by the National Science Foundation that kicked off earlier this year. Its goal is to reach a consensus on strategies for oyster fishing practices and restoration in the Choptank and Little Choptank rivers on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Diminishing numbers of the shellfish has sparked some heated debates in recent years between the people who make a living off oysters and the people looking to restore their populations.

The  project brings together a diverse group of stakeholders from the oyster industry, environmental groups, and government agencies to make recommendations on ways to improve the oyster resource while integrating commercial and restoration interests.

Oysters are important to Maryland’s economy and cultural heritage, and for a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay.

Elizabeth North, an associate professor with UMCES’ Horn Point Laboratory, said it’s kind of like drafting a business plan that ensures the future is bright both economically and environmentally speaking.

“Hopefully with a better business plan, we will have a more profitable and a long-term sustainable industry that is based on rehabilitation and improvement of the oyster resource over time,” she said.

North is leading a group of scientists who are serving as consultants to the stakeholder group, collecting data, developing projection models, and observing the process.

Biologist Mike Wilberg of the UMCES’ Chesapeake Biological Laboratory has been working on a computer model that will be unveiled at the next OysterFutures meeting.

Using simulations and projections from the scientists, stakeholders will examine how various regulations or changes in restoration practices may have different outcomes for oyster population, harvests, and water quality. They will weigh the difference between longer or shorter seasons, having more or different sanctuaries, or changing gear types.

“We’re using the model to bring together all the science about oysters and how they are likely to respond,” Wilberg said. “Building the model in collaboration with the group lets us all learn from each other, which is a very important part of the OysterFutures process.”

The group has already held meetings and a symposium, and will meet a few more times to explore strategies and solutions before presenting its findings to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in June 2017.

Whether the state will adopt any of the group’s recommendations isn’t clear, North said, but the process has already been valuable because of the people involved.

She described the discussions at recent meetings through OysterFutures as both strong and respectful, adding that this process of collaboration and compromise could be the key to creating more sustainable regulations, which in turn could lead to a healthier resource and industry.

“There’s a lot more common ground than I think the different groups are aware of,” North said. “It’s also uncomfortable because I keep seeing how many misconceptions that I’ve had, which are just going by the wayside.”

North expects the next meeting of stakeholders, scheduled Nov. 5 and 6, will be a strong indicator of the progress of those initial discussions.

“We really haven’t gotten to a point where people are trying to rate something, selecting one idea over another, which will start early next year, so that’s when we’ll really see whether this process works,” she said.

For updates on the OysterFutures project, visit oysterfutures.wordpress.com or the OysterFutures Facebook page.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment