Outdoorsmen's group is branching out


January 10, 1993|By LONNY WEAVER

The Maryland Aquatic Resources Coalition is a volunteer organization representing more than 14,000 state sportsmen.

MARC initially was formed to combat Baltimore City's surprise closure of Liberty, Prettyboy and Loch Raven reservoirs to boaters last year in response to zebra mussels infesting New York waters.

"I was mad at that decision," said MARC chairman Duke Nohe, recalling his decision to join forces with Clem Luberecki, Jim Scarborough and Don Roberts to create MARC. This is the same team that formed the Maryland B.A.S.S. Federation in the middle 1970s.

"Right now MARC is comprised of Trout Unlimited, the Maryland B.A.S.S. Federation, the American Bass Association of Maryland, the North American Bass Anglers and the Maryland Saltwater Sportsmen's Association, which makes us the largest outdoorsmen's network in the state."

lTC MARC's main thrust had been to get the three reservoirs reopened to boat fishermen. This week it was announced that the reservoirs will reopen on March 1.

But MARC has jumped into other related areas.

"MARC believes that Maryland sportsmen are faced with diminishing privileges and rights, a sad environmental state and a mountain of problems arising from budget cutbacks," Nohe said. "The only way for the sportsman to be heard on these matters is by force of numbers."

The organization's goals include the provision of a united front "on issues that affect the future of our aquatic resources on the East Coast and particularly in the state of Maryland, promote public and political awareness of the major issues, assist in the education of the public on these issues, monitor aquatic program funding, and exercise our maximum influence on the development of related legislation," Nohe said.

MARC also opposes Speaker Clayton Mitchell's proposed legislation in this year's General Assembly that would incorporate the Department of Natural Resources Police under the control of the Maryland State Police. This issue also is opposed by the DNR's Sports Fisheries Advisory Commission.

Nohe said, "We strongly feel that the Natural Resources Police should not be combined with the State Police. Each has their own responsibility. We have also pointed out to Mr. Mitchell that such a move could also cause loss of federal funds."

MSSA keeps busy

The 6,500-plus member Maryland Saltwater Sportsmen's Association is another active organization for sportsmen.

MSSA Executive Director Richard Novotny said, "We are the watchdog in Annapolis and Washington to protect the rights of the recreational fisherman."

Members have been appointed to represent sportfishing positions to various DNR and Department of Environment advisory boards as well as the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

Last year the MSSA was in the forefront in opposing the Federal Boat User Fee tax and another federal move to allow sea dumping of sludge and ash.

It stood up for a bill that proposed to classify the rockfish as a gamefish the length of the East Coast and fought against large-scale commercial high seas drift net use.

Their efforts within the state included active involvement concerning commercial gill net seasons, access to artificial fishing reefs, losses of bay grasses as well as work on proposed regulations for weakfish, summer flounder, black drum, hardhead, bluefish and perch.

The MSSA also sponsors the Chesapeake Bay's most popular fishing contest, the annual bluefish tournament.

"Back in 1983 we had 300 boats participating in our first tournament. This year we're expecting 1,100 or more," Novotny said.

This 10th anniversary tournament, offering more than $192,000 in prizes, is set for May 15 and 16.

"We will have 11 official weigh-in and check-in stations throughout the bay for the convenience of the tournament competitors," he said.

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