Much to his dismay, Michael Wardman of Colonial Beach recently discovered that oyster gardening is illegal in the Potomac River.
“I can’t believe it. I’ve talked about it with a lot of people in Maryland and Virginia and they can’t believe it either,” Wardman said.
Both states encourage oyster gardening in their Chesapeake Bay waters to improve water quality and to help restore the once plentiful species, Wardman said. He said he wanted to attach an oyster cage to his pier in the river and to help establish a community oyster garden at the Town Pier.
But “no” was the answer he got when he stopped by the Colonial Beach office of the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, the agency created by Maryland and Virginia to regulate fishing in the river.
Executive Secretary Kirby A. Carpenter told The Free Lance-Star that allowing oyster gardens at piers in the river would be tantamount to leasing the river’s oyster grounds to private growers, a practice prohibited by law.