From: Mathew M. Sarro
Five years ago, in 1985, the population of the striped bass (commonly referred to as the rockfish) reached a record low in the Chesapeake Bay. This fish, due to overfishing and pollution, declined in numbers so drastically from 1970 through 1985 that the state had no choice but to issue a moratorium banning the catching of all rockfish inMaryland.
This fish that was once representative of the abundanceof wildlife in Maryland was banned because of record low netting numbers (the number of fish caught in each commercial fishing net). In 1985, the netting number was two fish per net. Fifteen years prior, in1970, the number was over 30 fish per net.
These numbers are scary, and to the dismay of environmentalists and all others concerned with the future of the rockfish, the moratorium was lifted and the fishing season began again in 1990.
One major concern of reopening thefish to commercial fishermen is that the ever-popular drift nets used to catch rockfish needlessly kill fish. The nets are designed to let the smaller fish out, but they don't always work this well. As a result, many undersized rockfish as well as females die from being trapped in nets for an extended period of time.
Earth First! is tryingto get the fishermen to raise their nets at night to prevent this catastrophe, but even that may not save the rockfish.
Another reasonto support the closing of the rockfish season is the overfishing andpollution. Pollution is of less concern because the Department of Natural Resources reported that the level of toxins in the water is notyet high enough to cause concern for the larvae of the rockfish.
The overfishing, though, is of great concern and for good reason. First and foremost, the number of rockfish is still not high enough to withstand commercial fishing for any duration. It is quite evident that if we allow commercial fishing, the rockfish population will most likely diminish to numbers even lower than in 1985.
One last argument for the banning of rockfish is that if the fish is banned but the demand is still existent, then the push for aquaculture could lead tomore successful methods of raising the fish. Unfortunately, at present, aquaculture is not popular because the fish caught by fishermen can be sold cheaper than the fish raised in aquaculture.
Upon examination of these facts it is easy to see that the fish should once again be banned. If the fish is again banned it may begin to thrive and its numbers may be restored to those seen in 1970.
Unfortunately, though, if the season remains open, the next banning of rockfish may be a necessity to prevent extinction. Also, if the ban is reinstated then aquaculture may become worthwhile and in the near future we may get cheap rockfish that are toxin-free at our local grocery store. Therefore, I see no evident reason why the ban shouldn't be reinstated.
STIFFER PUNISHMENT FOR DRUNKEN DRIVERS
From: Ariona Amendola
Drunken driving -- should it be taken lightly? I say, 'No way!' Drunken driving is one of the major causes (of) death in the United States, and if you think that should be taken lightly, then you're wrong. This terrible offense should be punished drastically.We shouldn't let these irresponsible motorists be let off with just a slap on the wrist.
Labeling a drunken driver on his license plate is a good idea. This action will not only embarrass the convicted person, but it will never let he or she forget what they did. It also warns other drivers who are on the road with the convicted driver.
This punishment is believed to have its flaws. Labeling this action on a license plate also means punishing the rest of the family of thedrunk driver. This is true, but should this be an excuse? I think not!
Another punishment to consider is to make the convicted drunkendrivers talk to junior high and high school students about drunken driving. They should present movies and lecture these young adults on the problem. They will maybe think about what they have done, and in the future think twice before driving while drunk.
I know the state of Maryland is trying hard to find a solution. This is a serious offense, and it should be taken with a serious attitude when it comes to convicting. Drunken drivers will drive while drunk again if we don't punish them harshly!
ENVIRONMENTAL TIP: ELIMINATE PLASTIC BAGS
From: Martin A. Braun
With all the current worries about the cluttering of our landfills with non-biodegradable materials, one simple part of the problem has not been appropriately addressed.
All grocery stores now use plastic bags, which eventually getthrown out as soon as they complete the duty of moving the goods from the store to the house. These bags, while they may not be the largest space-fillers at the dump, can easily be eliminated as an environmental problem.