Boxship owner to pay Maryland for oyster bar damage

(BALTIMORE) – The Maryland Board of Public Works approved a wetlands license Wednesday that requires the owner of the containership Ever Forward to fund the seeding of oyster bars as mitigation for the effects of the vessel’s grounding on aquatic habitat.

Ever Forward was underway on March 13, 2022, from Baltimore to Norfolk, Va., with 4,964 containers when it grounded in Chesapeake Bay. The 1,096-foot ship was refloated 35 days later after dredging and the removal of approximately 500 containers. Maryland had issued an emergency wetlands license that allowed for the dredging operation.

A response boat from Coast Guard Station Curtis Bay patrols alongside the grounded containership Ever Forward on March 29, 2022, in Chesapeake Bay. U.S. Coast Guard photo

“The seeding of oyster bars will contribute to an improved aquatic habitat and provide long-term water quality benefits,” said Deputy Secretary-Acting Secretary of the Environment Suzanne Dorsey. “From the time that the Ever Forward was grounded to the refloating of the vessel to the issuance of this wetlands license and its special conditions, the Maryland Department of the Environment has been on the job to ensure that the Chesapeake Bay and its habitat for oysters and other aquatic life are protected.”

The license approved Wednesday requires shipowner Evergreen Marine Corp. to pay $676,200 for the seeding and enhancement of oyster bars. The grounding and dredging impacted about 14 acres of Chesapeake Bay bottom, including 11.5 acres within the boundary of a natural oyster bar.

Evergreen Marine will make payment to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for the agency’s enhancement and reseeding of 41 acres of oyster bars to satisfy the mitigation requirement. Because the impacts occurred within Anne Arundel County, DNR will consider locations within that county as a priority.

– Maryland Department of the Environment

By Rich Miller