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This article examines the evolution of the laws and practices governing the oyster fishery in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay. Specifically, this note focuses on poaching and the mismanagement of the resource. Currently, the Bay’s oyster beds in Maryland are treated as a common resource, open to all license holders to exploit at their will. This has led to overfishing and an unsustainable depletion of the oyster fishery to the detriment of Maryland’s oystermen and the shellfish market overall. To alleviate the problem, this note recommends that Maryland concentrate its courts that adjudicate natural resource violations and create a semi-private leasehold system to better ensure the health of the Bay and the continued productivity of the fishery. These solutions will increase the expertise of the bench dealing with oyster related violations and simultaneously introduce incentives for oystermen to sustainably manage Maryland’s oyster resources.

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