Statement from Governor Martin O'Malley on Release of Draft Oyster Environmental Impact Statement
Governor Martin O'Malley released the following statement today in reaction to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Oyster Restoration in the Chesapeake Bay:
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Oyster Restoration in the Chesapeake Bay released today is the most thorough assessment of oyster biology and restoration strategies ever undertaken for the Chesapeake Bay. These data and analyses will be critical in determining how best to achieve our goal of re-establishing a healthy, sustainable oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay, and the ecological, economic and cultural values they provide.
While greatly advancing our scientific understanding, the Draft EIS still leaves open important policy questions regarding acceptable risk levels associated with various strategies, therefore I encourage our stakeholders and other citizens to participate actively in the public comment period, including the three scheduled hearings in Maryland, as we move forward with a final policy decision early next year. While the report does not offer a definitive recommendation regarding the introduction of a non-native oyster into our ecosystem, I remain concerned that the risk of such an irrevocable step could well outweigh any benefit. As we consider the options before us we must first ensure we do no harm.
The problems that have resulted in the decimation of our native oyster population -- and the decline in health of our beloved Chesapeake Bay -- have been centuries in the making. And just as humankind is responsible for the condition of our resources today, so too will we find and implement the solutions necessary to restore their health and abundance; we owe nothing less to our children and theirs.