In 1970, the Chesapeake Bay was infected by MSX, a disease that devastated the oyster population not only in Maryland, but in Delaware, New Jersey, and other coastal states. The MSX disease will not allow oysters to reach maturity in high salinity areas, but when moved to lower salinity areas, MSX virtually disappeared, and the oysters grew to legal market size. Moving the oysters also supports the industry by filtering larger quantities of bay water and creating a cleaner habitat for fish, crabs, and all types of marine life.
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Oystermen, and other agencies have found that by moving the shells and seeds from the non-productive areas to highly productive areas is a minimum investment that provides a maimum return.
This procedure was funded mainly by a surcharge paid by every individual engaged in harvesting as well as a per bushel severance tax paid by the oyster packers.
This system worked for forty years, but drew opposition from special interest groups. The permit to dredge these shell deposits has not been reinstated, and this program has basically been abandoned. The Maryland Oystermen Association feels, with your support as well as the cooperation from the Maryland Department of Natural Resource officials, we can build public interest and restore a clean healthy bay to keep Maryland heritage and culture alive.