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September 28, 2011
I just finished reading an article in a local publication that went as far to name various fishing communities such as "Tangier Island, Smith Island, Crisfield, Cambridge, St. Michaels, Oxford, Kent Island, Rock Hall and others in Bay Country" as being in " the middle of a poaching epidemic of unreal proportions. " The article goes on to describe this problem as being linked to illegal drug use. While some of what the author describes may be true to a much lesser extent, I have grown angered and frustrated by some, but not all, of these so-called journalists leaving the general public with such a negative impression of the watermen community.
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Tim Wheeler | October 1, 2014
Oyster season opened on a tentative note Wednesday, amid doubts about whether a two-year rebound in the commercial harvest of the Chesapeake Bay's bivalves could continue. There appeared to be fewer watermen working Wednesday in Broad Creek, an Eastern Shore tributary of the Choptank River where more than 120 boats congregated on opening day last year, according to Drew Koslow, the Choptank Riverkeeper. Watermen said the oysters they were pulling up with scissor-like tongs seemed to be smaller, too. "We're not expecting the catch to be as good as it was last year," said P.T. Hambleton, who runs a seafood business in Bozman.  Watermen who'd checked reefs before the season started found oysters smaller than what they'd pulled up last fall, Hambleton said.
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FEATURES
By Timothy B. Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun | October 21, 2013
A group of Maryland watermen has filed suit seeking to overturn the state's catch limit on menhaden, arguing that it violates state and federal law and that the forage fish is not in need of conservation. In a filing Friday in Dorchester County Circuit Court, two founding members of the Harvesters Land and Sea Coalition ask for a temporary restraining order blocking the state from enforcing catch rules on menhaden imposed this year. A spokesman for the group contends in a statement that Maryland's catch limit is unscientific and unfair, noting that 80 percent of all the menhaden allowed to be caught along the Atlantic coast would go to one company, Omega Protein in Reedville, Va. The state Department of Natural Resources released a statement Monday saying Maryland's menhaden limits are legal, scientifically supported and required under federal law to reduce harvest pressure.
FEATURES
By Catherine Rentz, The Baltimore Sun | August 1, 2014
A fish poaching case that began in February 2011 with a discovery of mysterious, illegally set nets full of tens of thousands of pounds of striped bass off Kent Island is finally coming to a close. Two Tilghman Island watermen pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court to illegally taking 185,925 pounds of striped bass from the Chesapeake Bay. Michael D. Hayden, 41, and William J. Lednum, 42, admitted to selling the striped bass for $498,293 through a ring they operated between 2007 and 2011, according to court documents.
NEWS
By Jennifer Hlad, Special to The Baltimore Sun | July 31, 2010
Jack Brooks watches as 60 of his employees use short, quick strokes to pick meat from piles of freshly steamed blue crabs. As they place the meat into plastic containers, men steer in wheelbarrows to shovel more crabs onto the long metal tables. "We try to get everything out of the crab we can," says Brooks, co-owner of J.M. Clayton Co., a 120-year-old seafood distribution company founded by his great-grandfather. Just outside this room, in the waters of the Chesapeake, blue crabs appear to be making a comeback, raising hopes that after years of decline, the industry that harvests them may rebound, too. Annual counts show the bay's crab population has jumped sharply in the two years since Maryland and Virginia imposed major restrictions on catching females.
FEATURES
By Timothy B. Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun | December 15, 2011
An Eastern Shore watermen faces up to $28,000 in fines for multiple oystering violations in Dorchester County, the Maryland Natural Resources Police said Thursday. Officers charged Joshua T. Tieder, 23, of Taylors Island with 13 counts of possessing undersized oysters, 14 counts of failing to tag the location of his harvest and one count of exceeding the daily catch limit. Tieder was seen leaving the Wingate harbor boat ramp with oyster bushels that he later put in a nearby marsh, according to police.
NEWS
By Gibby Dean | October 26, 2011
As president of the Chesapeake Bay Commercial Fishermen's Association, I have become increasingly angered and frustrated by the news media normally leaving the general public with such a negative impression of the watermen community. Over the past year, there have been numerous stories involving illegal fishing activities, both in print and as specials on local TV. Unfortunately, some of the facts are true - through at times the presentation is misleading - and we as an industry are certainly not proud of them.
FEATURES
By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun | March 21, 2014
Two watermen were fined nearly $1,500 for oyster poaching on the Eastern Shore, the first conviction stemming from a network of radar and cameras the state launched in 2010 to detect illegal seafood harvesting. Brothers William and Irving Catlin, both of Westover in Somerset County, were fined $1,000 and $450, respectively, after state Natural Resources Police caught them with seven bushels of oysters Nov. 25, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler's office said Friday. A police officer detected the watermen's boat in an oyster sanctuary area near Deal Island and monitored it as he responded to their location, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.
NEWS
By Jennifer Hlad and Capital News Service | January 20, 2010
More than 150 watermen took a day off from the water Tuesday to protest a proposed oyster restoration plan and support a bill they say will help them hang on to their livelihood. The bill would protect the watermen's right to use certain equipment and techniques - power dredging and patent tongs - to harvest oysters. The areas where oystermen can use that equipment is limited, and the bill would prevent the state from further restrictions. "We see this as a pre-emptive bill," said Sen. Richard F. Colburn, a Republican from Caroline County, who introduced the bill Tuesday in the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.
FEATURES
By Catherine Rentz, The Baltimore Sun | August 1, 2014
A fish poaching case that began in February 2011 with a discovery of mysterious, illegally set nets full of tens of thousands of pounds of striped bass off Kent Island is finally coming to a close. Two Tilghman Island watermen pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court to illegally taking 185,925 pounds of striped bass from the Chesapeake Bay. Michael D. Hayden, 41, and William J. Lednum, 42, admitted to selling the striped bass for $498,293 through a ring they operated between 2007 and 2011, according to court documents.
NEWS
By Timothy B. Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun | May 29, 2014
A judge in Cambridge has upheld Maryland's curbs on catching menhaden, rejecting claims by a pair of watermen that the restrictions were unconstitutional. Following a day-long hearing Wednesday in Dorchester Circuit Court, Judge David Mitchell, a retired Baltimore Circuit Court jurist, ruled in favor of the state's action last year to curtail the commercial catch of the unsavory but ecologically important fish. Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, whose office represented the Department of Natural Resources, hailed the ruling as a "victory for the health of the Chesapeake Bay. " Natural Resources Secretary Joseph P. Gill said the judge had confirmed his department's authority to limit the menhaden catch in keeping with a decision by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to ease fishing pressure coastwide.
NEWS
May 11, 2014
I'd like to put in my two cents worth on the blue crab situation in the Chesapeake Bay. In his letter, Richard Anderson made a valid point as to the size of the industry and number of people that would be affected ( "Crabbing moratorium isn't the answer," May 7). However, Mr. Anderson should be more aware of the full choice between losing business for one year and losing it forever. One female crab can repopulate the entire species, and they should be protected and banned from harvesting.
NEWS
May 7, 2014
In response to Dan Rodricks ' article, "Stop tinkering: Ban crabbing for a year" (May 4) I must say that his solution to the Chesapeake Bay's crab shortage, placing a moratorium on crab harvesting, is too simple and elementary for this complex and multi-faceted problem. The Chesapeake Bay blue crab industry makes up $700 million of the state of Maryland's economy. There are many individuals and businesses involved in this economy, starting with watermen, marinas and boat repairs, bait and tackle supplies, truck drivers, fuel companies, crab wholesalers, crab picking houses, carry-out crab houses, sit down restaurants, refrigeration services, boiler services, and the list could continue.
NEWS
May 5, 2014
The Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab is an omnivore. If a favorite food like worms, plants or baby clams is unavailable, it switches to something else. Maryland's human denizens may want to seriously consider doing that same thing. That's because the latest news regarding one of Maryland's favorite seafood delicacies isn't good. For the second straight year, the bay's crab population is in decline, with the number of female crabs - the most critical factor for future reproduction - below what biologists regard as safe to maintain the current stock.
FEATURES
By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun | March 21, 2014
Two watermen were fined nearly $1,500 for oyster poaching on the Eastern Shore, the first conviction stemming from a network of radar and cameras the state launched in 2010 to detect illegal seafood harvesting. Brothers William and Irving Catlin, both of Westover in Somerset County, were fined $1,000 and $450, respectively, after state Natural Resources Police caught them with seven bushels of oysters Nov. 25, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler's office said Friday. A police officer detected the watermen's boat in an oyster sanctuary area near Deal Island and monitored it as he responded to their location, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.
NEWS
Tim Wheeler | March 10, 2014
Natural Resources Secretary Joseph P. Gill is no longer "acting. "  As expected, the Senate voted Friday to confirm him after an extraordinary hearing at which watermen protested his oversight of the commercial fishing industry and Gill apologized for a "communications gap" with the group. The vote was 40 to 7. Gill's confirmation had been on hold since late January, after the president of the Maryland Watermen's Association accused him of threatening commercial fishermen with loss of catch if the department failed to win legislative authority to change fishing seasons and quotas on short notice.
NEWS
May 11, 2014
I'd like to put in my two cents worth on the blue crab situation in the Chesapeake Bay. In his letter, Richard Anderson made a valid point as to the size of the industry and number of people that would be affected ( "Crabbing moratorium isn't the answer," May 7). However, Mr. Anderson should be more aware of the full choice between losing business for one year and losing it forever. One female crab can repopulate the entire species, and they should be protected and banned from harvesting.
FEATURES
By Jean Marbella, The Baltimore Sun | March 7, 2014
Five Queen Anne's County watermen have been charged with illegally taking 51 bushels of oysters from a protected area near the mouth of the Wicomico River in Tangier Sound, Maryland Department of Natural Resources officials said. Acting on a tip, Natural Resources Police officers used radar and cameras to track several boats tonging in the Evans Oyster Harvest Reserve Area, they said. The waterman charged are: Ryan Daniel Baxter, 20, of Queen Anne; Benjamin Leonard Reihl, 26, of Rock Hall; Adam Vincent Reihl, 21, of Church Hill; Harvey Thomas Bowers, 49, of Chestertown, and George Albert Lee, 45, of Dominion.
NEWS
Tim Wheeler | March 4, 2014
Acting Natural Resource Secretary Joseph P. Gill's confirmation as the department's permanent chief appears back on track. A Senate committee Monday approved Gill's nomination after he apologized for remarks that angered watermen and vowed to work on closing what he called a "communication gap. " The Executive Nominations Committe voted to send Gill's nomination to the full Senate for confirmation. Sen. Richard F. Colburn, an Eastern Shore Republican, was the only dissenter, though three other Republicans on the 18-member panel abstained.
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