Preserving marine resources

Weekend crabbers: It isn't just commercial operators who must work to protect aquatic species.

May 01, 1999

MOST OF the limits aimed at preserving sustainable fisheries have focused on commercial fishers and watermen with good reason: Their actions can have the greatest impact on the fragile aquatic ecology. But the "recreational" waterman is also part of the problem and must be part of the solution.

A case in point is the new Department of Natural Resources requirement for a wire device on crab pots that would keep terrapins, diving birds and otters out of the traps, while admitting all crabs. It's a simple addition to the traditional crab pot, one that most crabbers could make for themselves and staple to their traps.

So why the fuss from crab pot makers and recreational crabbers? They fault DNR for not promptly telling them what the so-called "turtle excluders" look like. The state agency says it has sent detailed instructions to manufacturers and it expects a transitional year for crabbers to understand the new rule.

But the grumbling continues from the chicken-neckers and tackle shops. Just another burden on their modest effort to put crabs on the family table, they say. In recent years they've seen the legal crab season shortened, other rules changed. There was even a proposal to require licenses.

Similarly, recreational ocean fishers are complaining about stiffer federal regulation.

Recreational and sports fishers need to understand -- and accept -- that their regulation is likely to increase in order to maintain and preserve our valuable marine resources.

Pub Date: 5/01/99

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