Robert T Brown Sr., Senator Hershey, Delegate JacobsJuly 2019

With low salinity in the Upper Bay and many of its rivers and tributaries, crabbing on the Bay is still very slow in many places. We have a predator problem with the blue catfish and other species. Mother Nature has not been kind to us. Regulatory Workgroup has been working on intruding Monofilament gill nets. There was a consensus of just adding monofilament gill net to multifilament net, nylon net to approved netting, and to leave all other regulations in place for the fishery.

There are current discussions to allow haul seiners to land fish from midnight Friday through sun-up Monday as long as they were caught during legal hours. Historically, it was permitted, and we would like to see it again.

The Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission will have its summer meeting on August 8- 11 in Alexandria, VA. The Striped Bass session to address the reduction due to dead discard release mortalities will be held on Thursday, August 8th from 8:30 AM to 11:30AM. This is primarily a Recreational problem with 48% recreational release mortalities. This is micromanagement of a fishery, raising the minimum size limits from 18 to 20 inches causes a higher mortality rate. If a fish swallows a hook it will die, the more fish you handle the more die. The commercial industry harvests 8% and only has 2 % dead releases. This is not a commercial problem; however we are possibly going to get a quota reduction.

By the middle of June salinity had improved from 4.2 to 6.0 in St. Patrick’s Creek on the Potomac River in St. Mary’s County. If this trend keeps up we may have an oyster strike in the Lower Bay. Our small oysters, which did not grow last season, may be of harvestable size next season. I am very concerned about the new Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Administrative Contract for Management of Oyster Seed, Shell and Spat on Shell growing/plantings. It is possible that the county oyster committees may lose their ability to review and assist in the selection of vendors used to work on their counties public bottom. This contract has been changed from a Nonprofit Set-Aside, a free contract open to the public to a Time and Material contract, a for profit contract, which in most cases is always more expensive and funds for this contract will come from the County Oyster Committees. Our counties oyster committees are elected by licensed oystermen and should not lose any of their authority. The Oyster Advisory Commission meeting is on August 12, 2019 at 6PM at the Fellowship Hall at Calvary United Methodist Church. I encourage you to come out and make your voices heard.

The Rock Hall Fishing Tournament was a great success and feedback from the participants has been very good. We are looking forward to making it even better next year. I would like to thank our many Rock Hall volunteers that helped and assisted with this event. Without you all, the MWA could not pull this off. Many thanks!

We are well on the way in planning the upcoming 2020 Commercial East Coast Fishermen’s and Aquaculture Trade Expo. Many of our loyal vendors and many new ones with new technologies have already signed up to exhibit.

 It will be held at the Ocean City Convention Center on January 17- 19, 2020. It’s not too soon to start planning for the show. Be sure to mark your calendar! In the next few months we will start updating you in the Gazette with hotel accommodation specials, seminars and events.

Stay Safe in your Travels.

Top photograph courtesy of Jay Fleming

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