Governor O’Malley recently announced a new program to provide affordable financing to watermen and others interested in launching or expanding commercial shellfish aquaculture operations in Maryland. Of the State’s $10.6 million oyster restoration budget for fiscal year 2011, $2.2 million in subsidized loans will be available for aquaculture projects through a partnership between the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation.
Governor O’Malley, along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Maryland’s congressional delegation, have made a successful effort to support our watermen and other working Marylanders interested in transitioning to aquaculture – the major source of shellfish production around the world. This loan program will help new businesses get off the ground, help existing businesses expand, and create new green jobs.
More than two-thirds of the funding for this program comes from a $15 million federal blue crab fishery disaster allocation to Maryland. The National Marine Fisheries Service award, which was requested by Governor O’Malley and advocated for by Senator Mikulski and Maryland’s congressional delegation in 2008, has supported a variety of watermen work programs as well as a program to retire inactive commercial limited crab catcher licenses.