This Wednesday, March 7th, CCA Maryland and others will testify before the House Environmental Matters Committee on an critical piece of legislation for recreational anglers, House Bill 1173. The bill is sponsored by Delegates Jim Gilchrist and Marvin Holmes, and CCA Maryland spent weeks working with them and their staff to draft it. The bill is facing its first critical test this Wednesday and we need you to email your Delegates and Members of the Committee to express your support and to let Annapolis know that recreational anglers demand change! Click through the link at the bottom of this screen to quickly send your message of support!
As you may know, preliminary analysis by the Department of Natural Resources has determined that recreational anglers cover 91% of the cost of managing their fisheries through user fees (93% when federal and state grants are included). Commercial fishermen only cover 20% of their cost through user fees (43% when federal and state grants are included). Largely because the commercial industry doesn’t pay its fair share, the Fisheries Services is facing a looming $3.2 million dollar shortfall in the coming years. Because the commercial industry isn’t accountable for the very fisheries on which it depends, our State’s ability to effectively manage our shared resources may be crippled.
The bill has three major provisions in order to help resolves these issues:
1) It requires any general funds provided for fisheries management to be allocated equitably between commercial and recreational fisheries;
2) It better protects funds paid by both recreational and commercial anglers by ensuring those user fees are used to manage their respective fisheries; and
3) It requires the commercial industry either contribute more funds to the management and enforcement of the clam, crab, oyster and striped bass fisheries in the form of higher user fees or by working to reduce the cost of effectively managing those fisheries so that they achieve a 90% cost recovery standard by July 1, 2013. If this does not occur, the Department of Natural Resources must either close or modify that fishing season until it reaches that level.
The key aspect about this bill is that it would force major changes in the way that all fisheries are managed in our State. There is no way to avoid the coming budgetary shortfalls- the question is how do we deal with it. This bill would force the commercial industry to pay its fair share for the cost of managing that industry. Recreational fisheries largely cover their own way and the State receives significant benefits from it through direct and indirect spending and tax dollars. There’s no reason the commercial industry, the very ones whose livelihoods depend on healthy and sustainable fisheries, can’t do the same.
You can support this Bill in two ways:
1) Send an email to your Delegates and the Members of the House Environmental matters Committee by clicking through the link below; and
2) Attend the hearing Wednesday. It starts at 1 p.m., but House Bill 1173 will not likely be heard before 3 p.m. We’ll post real-time updates on when it will come up on the CCA Maryland Facebook Page in case people want to try and arrive later in the afternoon. The hearing itself will be held in the House Office Building (from Rowe Boulevard, looking at the State House the House Office Building is on the left) in the 2nd Floor Environmental Matters Committee Room. After the hearing you could also attend the first banquet and auction of the reconstituted Annapolis Chapter. More information on the banquet can be found here!
Thank you for your support of this important piece of legislation. Your voice will count and benefit recreational anglers for years to come!
Click the link below to log in and send your message: