Senate panel OKs rockfish bill

April 03, 1991|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,Sun Staff Correspondent

ANNAPOLIS -- Senate Bill 575, the Rockfish Preservation Act of 1991, has received a favorable vote from the Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee.

The vote on the bill, which has not been released by the committee, was six for, four against and one abstention. The bill is expected to be released by the committee and voted on by the Senate within the next two days.

If the bill passes the Senate, it will move on to the House of Delegates for discussion and another vote.

"We're ecstatic," Rich Novotny, executive director of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association, said yesterday. "It was a great step."

The bill would prohibit commercial sale and harvest of rockfish in Maryland waters. Within the bill are provisions for the compensation and retraining of commercial fishermen who would lose income or employment because of the closing of the fishery.

"We think we have enough support from the senators that they will vote it out of the Senate [and send it to the House]," Novotny said. "We are encouraged by the vote of the committee and hope they recognized the broad-based support for the initiative."

The Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Waterman's Association and the Maryland Charterboat Association oppose the bill.

Two years ago, a similar rockfish/gamefish bill did not make it out of committee.

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