Robert T Brown Sr., Senator Hershel, Delegate JacobsFebruary 2017

Well another year has gone by and 2017 is off to a great start.  The 43rd East Coast Commercial Fishermen’s and Aquaculture Trade Show in Ocean City was a great success, with many of our loyal vendors and many new ones filling the exhibit hall.  The expo had big boats and motors back up front and the feedback from the vendors and attendees has been wonderful.  Many vendors have already signed up for next year.   I want to thank all our volunteers (old and new) that did an excellent job working the show and cocktail party. I also want to thank the vendors for their donations to the auction Friday night which made it a great success and lots of fun.  The support of the vendors truly made for a great event.  Another big thank to the Seafood Industry (see sponsor list on page 15) that donated food for the cocktail party and to the county associations for donating oysters for our raw bar.

Monday after trade show was the opening night of legislation. The MWA with the help of our county organizations, had another wonderful seafood reception with many of the senators and delegates in attendance.  I would also like to thank all the volunteers that help put this event on.  Again without the volunteers we could not do these events.  Many thanks to the watermen that provided the fish and oyster and a special thanks to the Kent County ladies that set up and kept the food coming, and to the shuckers that kept the raw bar full.  I would also like to give a big thanks to Bevan Oyster Co for donating oysters.

The first night of caucus was held January 23. We discussed several bills. First, HB 211 (SB268): Cow Nose Rays Fishing Contest Prohibition. This bill prohibits any competition, tournament, or derby with the objective of catching or killing cow nose rays for prizes or other inducements; or entertainment purposes.  We are opposed to this bill, as the cow nose ray is a very destructive to our oyster beds, clam bottom, crabs and grasses.  The only know predator is the shark.  There is an overabundance of this species and if this bill passes it may open the door to close all bows fishing in the future.

There is a proposed Rockfish bill that has been drafted about the 7-inch stretch maximum mesh size.  This bill is needed to ensure and protect commercial fishermen by possibly using a gauge to measure the tension of net.

SB 59: Crab Harvest Times, Trotline and Pots. This bill has already had its first hearing and amendments have been made for consideration for starting times and ending time.  This will provide crabbers with the opportunity to work the following hours, on Labor Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July and the day before each of these holidays.

• Trotline gear begin two hours before sunrise and nine hours after sunrise not including time spent setting and taking up gear.

• Licensees that use crab pots hours will begin 1 ½ hours before sunrise and ends 7 ½ hours after sunrise.

This bill has not passed yet.

The Oyster Advisory Commission (OAC) has heard all input from countries and public about the opening of oyster sanctuaries for rotational harvest.  The Department of Natural Resources is drafting a proposal for the OAC to review of a new management oyster plan for the sanctuaries.  Hopefully, we can get some open by next season.  The Tidal Fishery Advisory Commission (TFAC) discussed Mallows Bay Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary, which has proposed 18 square miles, another one with 52 square miles and another at 100 square miles.  The TFAC has already voted against the 100 and 52 square mile proposals and is has appointed a subcommittee to review the 18 square miles and give comment.  It was originally proposed to be 18 acres to protect historic shipwrecks.

 The next MWA event will be our annual Clay Shoot in May. This summer we will also have our annual Rockfish Tournament in Rock Hall, June 9-11. We will have more information on both events in our next issue and on our website.

Stay safe in your travels!

Robert T.

Top photograph courtesy of Jay Fleming

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