Maryland’s insurance policy
for the survival of oysters
in the Chesapeake.
Caring a Lot
A few years ago, Ann Attanasio knew
little about oysters—other than they
arrived on a plate with cocktail sauce.
Yet this spring, Ann testified about
oysters in front of a Maryland General
Ann is an example of the countless
number of Marylanders who have
developed more than a taste for oysters.
They have come to understand and
be passionate about the important
role oysters play in the ecology of the
Ann drove to Annapolis from Rockville
to testify because she knew oysters
needed her. The Maryland seafood
industry was pushing to start
harvesting on oyster sanctuaries,
usually off-limits to harvesting. On
those protected reefs, oysters are
allowed to grow large, and hopefully
reproduce. Sanctuaries are Maryland’s
insurance policy for the survival of
oysters in the Chesapeake.
Ann joined scientists, environmentalists,
and others who successfully advocated
for a bill, reaffirming the legislature’s
stance that no major changes to oyster
management policies in Maryland
could take place on sanctuaries
until a scientific study is completed
on whether the oyster harvest is
sustainable. The seafood industry’s
rush to harvest was thwarted.
Legislators undoubtedly paid attention
to Ann, and to a bi-partisan poll
commissioned by CBF that showed
about 90 percent of Marylanders
want sanctuary reefs to be left alone.
The poll was conducted jointly by
a Republican polling firm and a
Ann said she learned her appreciation
of the oyster from her daughter, Jamie
(see page 15 for more on Jamie). In 2007,
Jamie, then nine years old, joined CBF’s
oyster gardening program, which helps
volunteers raise baby oysters in cages.
You can’t grow oysters in Rockville.
But the owner of Oak Grove Marina in
Edgewater was delighted to let Jamie
grow oysters there.
Before long, Jamie had convinced her
friends to join her. Jamie tended four
cages in the beginning, then eventually
18 cages. By the time she graduated
from high school, she and her friends
had raised 95,986 baby oysters. Many
of those oysters were subsequently
planted on sanctuary reefs. Jamie is now
a freshman at Colby College in Maine,
studying environmental science.
Of course, mom did a lot of chauffeuring
over the years—and learning. She
watched the kids get excited about the
sea worms, grass shrimp, and other
life that thrived around the clumps
“What the heck is an oyster? You live in
Rockville. You aren’t around the water,”
Ann recalled of her earlier ignorance.
“Now, we care a lot.”
U To learn more about what’s happening
in Maryland, visit cbf.org/Maryland.
Ann Attanasio’s daughter, Jamie, began oyster gardening at the age of nine and mom soon
learned the importance of oysters and became their voice in the General Assembly.