Tuesday, February 22, 2011

State Plans 'Waterman Buyout'

The state plans to spend $4 million in federal money to buy watermen's licenses and retire them.
Watermen will get letters by March 1 explaining their options for selling their licenses, said Lynn Fegley, a fisheries biologist at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The goal of the program is to retire licenses that are going unused. Large numbers of unused licenses - called "latent effort" - can make it difficult to estimate how many watermen will work in a given year and how many crabs, fish or oysters they might catch.
Many of Maryland's watermen are part timers, who have jobs on land, but hold commercial licenses often passed down from relatives, which they use to make extra money when fishing is relatively easy.  It is also suspected that many such part timers are among the less ethical fishermen, and more likely to slide around the game laws than the commercial fisherman who do it on a full time basis.

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