Robert T Brown Sr., Senator Hershey, Delegate JacobsOctober 2018

The Chesapeake Bay dodged a bullet with Hurricane Florence. With the amount of rain we have already had this spring and summer it would have been more tragic than Hurricane Agnes, from which the Bay has not yet completely recovered. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all whom were affected by this deadly storm. Hopefully, it will not affect the Chesapeake Bay and tributaries. The Maryland Watermen’s Association would like to thank the Department of Natural Resources for extending the given time to retrieve crab pots before the storm. Thanks again!

First off, I would like to thank the commercial industry and associate organizations for the great turn out on September 10th at the first fall MWA meeting. It was great to see that everyone from around the state represented and to hear everyone’s’ concerns about our fisheries. We were able to have a great fellowship meal and converse with industry leaders that we hadn’t seen over the summer. We hope to continue with this great turnout of industry leaders as legislation is just around the corner and we will need to be working closely with our senators and delegates on upcoming bills, issues, and concerns. I would like to thank you all again for your support and participation.

The Striped Bass Workgroup will be meeting soon and the MWA has requested the DNR to include Saturdays and Sundays for harvesting striped bass gillnetters this season. At present, this fishery only has approximately 60 days in the season. This will not increase quota of fish to be harvested. As we all know the weather can be brutal with strong winds and ice. This would also open the markets up bring a premium price, with Flexible Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ). Governor O’Malley’s administration claimed that ITQs would bring more flexibility, provide better access to the market and give us more time to harvest. It didn’t pan out that way then. However, under Governor Hogan, we have an administration that listens to our needs and request.

The Oyster Advisory Commission had a homework assignment to discuss possible changes in the Oyster Management Plan/Oyster Regulations. The homework tool listed examples of how the fishery works now and asked each member for their opinion, what they would or would not change and how it would affect the regulations or whether it would need legislation. The following are some of the regulations which we are looking at:

  • What should be the minimum size of oyster and should there be a slot size?
  • Limit to save spawning stock.
  •  The possibility of lowering the bushel limit and the possibility of a total allowable catch for a season; and /or having an Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) for oysters.
  •  The possibility of a shorter season and hours of harvest per day.
  • Which gear should be used, should there be a limited entry?
  • When it comes to Sanctuaries are the benefits good or bad?
  • Harvest reserves areas and rotational harvest.
  • Which did we think about the planting of different substrates? Stone, rubble, reef balls, shell mixed shell, reclaimed shell, dredge shell? What about seed areas, wild seed, and spat on shell.

These are topic that the oyster Advisory commission will be considering for recommendations, which could change the Oyster Management Plan.

Don’t forget our upcoming Trade Show in Ocean City, Maryland, January 18th, 19th, and 20th, 2019. The show is coming along great and Truck Tickets are now available for purchase online or by calling the office. They make great Christmas presents!

Stay safe in your travels.

Top photograph courtesy of Jay Fleming

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