Hurricane (now Tropical Storm) Sandy has forced the cancellation of a public hearing Tuesday on a controversial proposal to curtail the coastwide catch of Atlantic menhaden.
Fisheries officials decided Monday that predicted storm condtions precluded going ahead with a hearing from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Easton Armory.
The Tuesday session was one of two forums in Maryland - and one of a series along the Atlantic coast - to take public comment on a proposal to reduce the catch of menhaden by up to 50 percent. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which regulates near-shore fishing, is slated to decide the issue in mid-December in Baltimore. Conservationists and others are urging a sharp reduction in catch, while cuts are opposed by Omega Protein, which operates a large menhaden fishing fleet out of Virginia. Commercial watermen in Maryland also oppose cuts, arguing that menhaden are essential as bait for the crabbing industry.