OYSTERS — The Chesapeake Bay’s oyster population is now languishing at about 1 percent of historic levels. Given how much money the state has put into restoring the oysters — and how many volunteers have contributed wholeheartedly to the effort — it is outrageous that poaching remains a problem.
So we were glad to hear that the Maryland Natural Resources Police, using radar and a helicopter equipped with a nose camera, have launched a crackdown. Lawmakers have increased the penalties, and poachers can now face not just fines but the permanent loss of their oyster harvesting licenses.
Oysters may be among the humblest of the bay’s creatures, but they are great natural water filters and vital to the Chesapeake’s health. The state has made a big investment in bringing them back — too big to allow the effort to be spoiled by a few selfish opportunists.