Maryland Seafood

One of the perks of living in Maryland is having fresh seafood available throughout the year. The Chesapeake Bay and Mid-Atlantic coast are noted for blue crabs, oysters, rockfish, bluefish and flounder. But did you know that some of the other seafood you may be enjoying may also come from Maryland?

Blue crab

Much of the shrimp that we have comes from the Gulf of Mexico and Florida, but some shrimp is caught in the ocean near Maryland and Virginia. In Maryland, Marvesta Farms grows nearly 130,000 pounds of shrimp a year at its indoor facility. Most commercial clam fishing occurs to the north of Maryland, but there is significant hard-clam harvesting in the Chesapeake Bay, particularly in the lower section around Tangier and Pocomoke sounds as well as in Virginia waters. Lobster is much more common in Maine than Maryland, but commercial lobster fishing does occur in our area. Lobsters found here are in very deep water, around 600 feet, so fishermen have to go out 12 to 15 miles from shore to make their catch. Last year, Maryland lobstermen caught approximately 35,000 pounds of lobster.

Scallops are caught in both the bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Scallop fishermen look for eel grass beds in the bay and shallow estuaries along the Atlantic coast for scallops. The blue mussel is found locally in shallow water bays along the coastline, where it often attaches to rocks, docks, wood pilings, etc., where it can be harvested. However, most of the commercial blue mussel fishing and aquaculture occurs to the north, especially around Prince Edward Island in Canada.

Our old standbys, the blue crab and oyster, are staging a comeback of sorts after their populations suffered significant declines in the last 20 years or so. The harvest has gone from a low of 43 million pounds in 2008 to 67.3 million pounds in 2012, the best harvest of the blue crab since 1993.

Reasons for this increase in population included reducing the harvest of females, stepping up enforcement and climatic factors causing the bay to have saltier water this year. Officials predict that this year's oyster harvest may double from last year's 135,000 bushels. Reasons for the uptick include increased enforcement of fishing regulations, the establishment of oyster sanctuaries, drier weather leading to saltier water, and the planting of oyster beds throughout the bay. Last year, nearly 600 million young oysters were planted in beds throughout the bay in Maryland.

Article by FCFCDB

Nature Notes for 2/17/2013