January 26, 2018

Commercial Watermen’s Caucus

Meeting – January 22, 2018

The Commercial Watermen’s Caucus met on Monday, January 22, 2018 in the House Office Building Room 318. The meeting was called to order by the Chairman, Delegate Jay Jacobs at 6 pm.

Those attending:

Senators: Hershey and Mathias

Delegates: Otto, Long, Cassilly, Rey, Fisher, Arentz, Howard and Metzgar

Waterman: 20 plus from around the state

DNR: George O’Donnell and Allison Cordell

Staff: from Congressman Harris, Hershey, Carozza and Mautz

The Commercial Watermen’s Reception will be held, Monday, February 5th in the House Office Building Rooms 170 & 180 from 6:30 pm to 8 pm. Robert T. Brown reported that plans were coming together for the event.

Discussion of pending or proposed legislation

Delegate Jacobs –

Dealing with required licenses per boat/ bushels oysters harvested / divers

Oysters – Tolerance for Buyers – change to 10% from 5% damage on 3 inch oysters handled by conveyor belts.  Concern expressed that NPR officers should not make discretion calls on this enforcement. Tommy Zinn – President Calvert Co. Watermen’s Assoc. and a buyer will work with Delegate Jacobs at this bill hearing.

Oyster Poaching – Administrative Penalties – This bill has been introduced several times unsuccessfully. Senator Simonaire has contacted Delegate Jacobs about preparing a bill on this issue and asking Delegate Jacobs to cross-file his bill. The bill would address the current law revoking a license for life.  They are meeting on the 24th to discuss this possible legislation.

Senator Hershey –

Legislation to extend the sunset provision for a tax credit for oyster shells (restaurants etc.) Delegate Rey has a similar bill in House.

A bill coming out of the Oyster Advisory Committee that would prohibit placing any non-native materials into Maryland waters for oyster bottom as part of oyster restoration.

Delegate Andrew Cassilly –

Concern and possible legislation for out of state people getting commercial crabber license. Suggest that proof of MD residency and ID be required for a license. Those present encouraged him to draft the bill.

Delegate Rick Metzgar – Baltimore County

He expressed concern for buoys in his area not being visual at night because of large osprey nest covering the lights. It was noted that some buoys are day buoys and all are under the responsibility of the Coast Guard. George O’Donnell stated he would discuss this concern with the Coast Guard.

Delegate John Mautz

Is preparing legislative that would exempt from sales tax a replacement engine on a boat.

Harris Creek –

High spots from oyster restoration project – It was noted that the recent ice had removed buoys that were identifying areas with high stone. Also efforts were underway to define how & who received the monies disbursed for the restoration.

The question was asked, if DNR could make a more durable plastic card for licenses?

Robert T. Brown, President of MD Watermen’s Assoc., stated that there was a growing concern in the state for the clamming industry.

Jeff Harris – Talbot County shared his experience – law suit and findings – Clam bottom vs. Aquaculture

Clam bottom is not included in the current aquaculture regs and is not included in the shell fish area. After paying over $15,000 in legal fees he learned there is no definition for clam bottom in these regulations.

It was noted that before 2009 regulations clam bottom was included.

Ideas discussed were, the need to get maps of clam bottom from each county; find a working definition of clam bottom.

Concerns were expressed about possibility of not being able to clam on sanctuaries.

This will be a topic of discussion at the next Tidal Fishery Adversary Commission.

It was stated that with today’s technology there should be a mapping of the entire bay that includes all industry; clams, oysters, crabs, fish and eel.

Aquaculture –

Troy Wilkins – shared that the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners had sent a letter to DNR stating their opposition to column leases for aquaculture.

It was asked that County Watermen Associations be informed earlier in the application /lease process.

Concerns were expressed about a possible bill that would consider infractions against aquaculture a felony.

Dorchester County Watermen vs Aquaculture situation with crabbers is generating considerable frustration which needs some resolution to avoid escalating

Troy Wilkins again, expressed the need to open “Man of War” for help in shell.

The Oyster Advisory Committee will meet, Monday, February 12th.

The meeting adjourned at 7:35 pm

Recorded by. Joanne Smith

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