Fishermen and boaters burdened with fee increase If folks aren't working, they don't pay taxes


July 10, 1992|By Capt. Bob Spore

Sometimes I wonder about politicians and bureaucrats. I don't want to insinuate they are stupid, but I swear they ain't as smart as the average rockfish.

Take the current budget problems at the county, state and federal levels. If folks aren't working, they don't pay taxes, or at least not as much. Therefore, the county, state and federal hangers-on get less. Even an old toadfish can understand that. Why is it, then, that these folks don't do something about increasing the number of jobs?

When times were good a few years back, the bureaucracy grew. The Department of Natural Resources, for example, created the Boating Administration. They probably had a couple extra senior officials without any empty senior-level positions, so they created some. You fabricate an organization, give it worthy-sounding goals and submit the plan for approval. Since funding wasn't a TC problem at the time, and it did solve the problem of what to do with an old crony or two, the plan was approved.

Generally, a couple of talented people in these bureaucracies keep the organization out of big trouble. It may not accomplish anything, but it does not cause problems that would draw attention to itself.

I don't think the Boating Administration qualifies in this category anymore. And now the climate has changed. Boating is a luxury, and is taxed as such. The federal government has added a boaters user fee, and many people have lost their jobs. Consequently, folks cut back on their fishing and boating.

The American Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association estimates that fishing participation has declined by 9 percent, or more than 6.5 million anglers, between 1990 and 1991.

Nevertheless, the bureaucracies must be fed. Since fewer people are boating and fishing, fewer people are paying the annual registration fee. The solution, of course, is to increase the fee, which is apparently in the works for next year.

We need the Boating Administration, which handles boating matters that fall under the DNR's jurisdiction, like we need another Magothy River Comprehensive Vessel Management Plan. Better to down-size the DNR by eliminating the Boating Administration and sending its important parts or functions back to their original organizations. A little streamlining and no new taxes would be appreciated by all.

The DNR has been doing such good things lately in other areas, I hate to see this hang-nail stick out and ruin their image.

* The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) striped bass policy board meets Wednesday and Thursday in Philadelphia. One of the top items on the agenda is Maryland's 1992 fall rockfish season.

The ASMFC sent Maryland a letter in June saying it had received evidence that the 1989 striped bass Young of Year (YoY) index may have been overestimated by as much as 100 percent. This could have a definite impact on our fall striped bass season, since the formula for determining the harvest rate is based on the YoY indexes of legal-size rockfish. A few of the fish born in 1989 will be legal-size this fall, so the ASMFC challenge, if it stands, could have a small impact on the length of the 1992 fall season.

It would have more of an impact on the seasons to come.

This whole incident stems from a group of whiners who have been forecasting the doom of the rockfish for years. The group includes a politician or two, some outdoor writers and some conservationists. They maintain that the 1989 Choptank River survey was flawed and that the striped bass season should have never been opened.

Some folks are never happy until they can make someone else miserable.

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