Summer Savings! Get unlimited digital access for 13 weeks for $13.
Readers Respond
News Opinion Readers Respond

Time to streamline oyster farming regulations

Regarding Tim Wheeler's recent article on oyster farming ("State's oyster farmers snagged in red tape," June 20), I would like to offer my insights on this subject as a member of the Maryland oyster aquaculture industry. As Mr. Wheeler sought to convey, while nearly everyone agrees that oyster aquaculture represents a beneficial use of the water and should be encouraged, it seems that government agencies responsible for oversight of Maryland waters are struggling to effectively implement a cohesive policy to this end. I believe this is largely the result of lingering inefficiencies within government processes through which aquaculture applications are reviewed.

First, we have redundant processes regarding permitting for shellfish aquaculture, one occurring at the state level, and the second at the federal level. These two processes duplicate the review of identical materials, publish separate public notices, and ultimately issue two sets of largely redundant permits — one state and one federal. Maryland has appealed to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allow the state to act as the sole arbitrator (as is done in Virginia), but the Corps has refused to relinquish authority. Between the state and federal review processes, as many as eight agencies may be included. It's no wonder applications often languish in this environment.

Additionally, it seems that regulators have become preoccupied by defining a process that accommodates every aquaculture application that comes down the pike. While this approach is sometimes necessary, it would behoove all parties to develop an expedited process for applications that meet specific requirements for best practices. As an example, a technique known as "spat-on-shell" is used to repopulate oysters in a completely natural fashion. This process is used by the federal government and state to restore oysters to public waters, as well as by aquaculture operator. However, the oyster farmer must undergo an exhaustive review process prior to planting his spat-on-shell, a practice that everyone agrees is beneficial as well as practiced by the government itself. Why are eight government agencies reviewing applications proposing a practice everyone agrees is beneficial and to be encouraged?

A much wiser process would create standards for accepted best practices and allow conforming applications to proceed in an expedited fashion. Let's have government agencies direct their energies into establishing standards for "the right way" to practice shellfish aquaculture and create "passing lanes" for applications that conform to these standards.

Jon Farrington, St. Leonard

The writer is proprietor of Johnny Oyster Seed Company and King Solomon Aquafarms.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Oyster farming off to a slow start in Maryland

    Oyster farming off to a slow start in Maryland

    Officials vow to cut through red tape to boost aquaculture

  • Baltimore needs BRT

    Baltimore needs BRT

    Recently, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford announced that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) should be considered as an alternative instead of the now-shelved Red Line light rail system ("Who knew Hogan, Rutherford were such transit geeks," July 15). Why? Costs. Light rail is extremely expensive — to the tune of...

  • Iran deal — war now or war later

    Iran deal — war now or war later

    In its recent editorial, The Sun adopts President Barack Obama's primary argument in favor of the Iran deal — that the only choice is the deal or war ("A 'good enough' agreement," July 24). No one wants war. But the choice here is not war or no war. It is war now or war later.

  • The evil of Iran

    The evil of Iran

    We sat 5,000-plus strong in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the District of Columbia for three intense days of Christians United For Israel (CUFI) 10th summit on July 12-14. We came from all across the nation (including 95 members from other countries and 500 college students). We...

  • Orioles: No gnomes, please

    Orioles: No gnomes, please

    In light of the Orioles recent near-death spiral, many fans have pinned the blame on the Buck Showalter Garden Gnome giveaway ("Buck Showalter garden gnome briefly causes long lines at Camden Yards," June 28). True, their record since the promotion has been dismal and Buck Showalter was warned...

  • Baltimore remains a fiber desert

    Baltimore remains a fiber desert

    Like Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's Smarter Baltimore draft report, the commentary, "Broadband for Baltimore" (July 27), has solid recommendations for building high speed Internet in Baltimore. But like that report, it ignores the principal reason that Baltimore City doesn't have broadband. Verizon's...