Md. Watermen Furious Over Menhaden Season Shutoff
Seafood buyers and watermen alike say they are concerned the fishery is being suddenly shut down. It was announced earlier this week by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
"It's the same old thing that we had last year, but it's even worse because I thought we had a change in the administration," said waterman Capt. Boo Powley. "But it looks like we didn't have a change in the administration because I'm in the same place I was at the same time last year."
So maybe the Hogan administration is going as soft on commercials as feared.
Watermen and seafood buyers say they are concerned that the DNR has not provided firm numbers on how many fish have been caught.
"If they could present this with the numbers, then we could understand that the limit has been caught and that we are going on the bycatch, but they can't come up with any numbers so it seems kind of strange that this is happening the way it is," said Harry Phillips of Russell Hall Seafood.
"The bycatch means if I catch rockfish or spot or anything else, I can keep 6,000 pounds of menhaden, that's all," explained Powley, adding that it's hardly enough to pay for all of the fuel and labor that goes into catching them.
Well, then don't catch 'em!
As for the reason there are no firm numbers, DNR has an answer for that. It has two reporting systems to keep track of the menhaden fishery. One is an immediate, daily electronic reporting system. The other way is a written monthly log it usually receives in the middle of the following month.
The catch is, not all watermen do that electronic log, so the monthly log usually accounts for 1 million pounds or more around this time of year that wasn't in the electronic logs. So DNR closes the menhaden season early, because officials believe by the time the August monthly log comes in, they will be at the quota. Powley said that's no excuse.
And that assumes that commercial fisherman are all honest with their reports. If you believe believe that, I have bridge for you.
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