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Overriding Veto, Lawmakers Create New Oyster Sanctuaries

Rachel Baye

The General Assembly voted Monday to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill prohibiting oyster harvesting in five Chesapeake Bay tributaries — Harris Creek, the Little Choptank River, the Tred Avon River, the St. Mary’s River and the Manokin River.

The bill was sponsored by House Speaker Michael Busch, who died Sunday. Out of deference to him, Senate Minority Whip Stephen Hershey said the Republican caucus would “temper” its opposition.

“When it comes to oyster and the overall health of the Bay, we certainly all seek the same outcomes, but as many issues here in Annapolis, we have different ideas and pieces to the overall solution,” Hershey said.

A recent study found that the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay is less than 1 percent what it was pre-colonization.

But Republicans say closing off the five tributaries to oyster harvesting isn’t necessary. The moved has faced heavy opposition from watermen.

In his veto letter, Hogan called the bill, “bad policy,” and said it’s bad for both watermen and the Bay.

The Senate voted to override the veto with exactly the 29 votes needed.

Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom. @RachelBaye
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