Advocacy Update 3/17

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March 17th, 2016

By: David Sikorski, Executive Director

With the session still in, CCA Maryland’s Government Relations Committee(GRC) is still working the halls of the legislature to ensure our messages of the importance of science based management and the long-term sustainability of our shared natural resources continues to be learned and understood by our elected leaders.

HB 924 – Natural Resources – Oyster Management – Prohibited Actions

HB924 has passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 102-39.   After much debate, the bill has been amended to explicitly describe that it will not limit the ability of Maryland DNR to consider the addition of two tributaries to the overall oyster sanctuary plan, a task that has been requested of the Oyster Advisory Commission by Secretary Belton.

As the bill moves over to the Senate, CCA Maryland will share continue to share our support for the bill, and provide testimony to help inform Senators as the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs(EHEA) committee considers the merits of delaying any changes in current oyster sanctuaries until a study informing the sound science based fishery management plan for our oyster resource is completed.

The current bill information can be found here, and by clicking the link in the top left corner of the bill information page you can review the text of the bill.

SB 554/ HB 1339- Natural Resources – Gill Nets – Mesh Size

Since our last update, SB 554 received an unfavorable report from the EHEA committee.  HB 1339 has passed the second reader after being amended, and will move to the EHEA to be considered by the committee in an amended form which is available for review here.

Oyster Advisory Commission

The winter weather this week caused DNR to postpone the March meeting of the Oyster Advisory Commission.  The meeting has been rescheduled for Tuesday March 21st at 6pm in the Fellowship Hall at Calvary United Methodist Church (301 Rowe Blvd, Annapolis, MD 21401).

Plastics/Trash Effecting Fish Health and Water Quality

Many are aware of the issues with trash that negatively effect our waterways in our region.  It’s hard to miss the evidence when on the water, or walking the shorelines many areas of the state.

SB186/HB229 was introduced this session, but our GRC members were not aware of the bill until after the committee hearings occurred.  While committee hearings are an important chance to provide input on legislation, they are not the only opportunity, and our GRC team has spent time this session learning more about SB186/HB229 while visiting legislators in the past few weeks, and sharing how important the control of trash is important to the health of our environment.  

We do not know if this proposed legislation will move forward this year to become law, but we can report that our GRC leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the impacts that plastics and other debris causes on our fish and local ecosystems, and our GRC team will continue to work increase awareness of efforts that can improve water quality in the region.  While much of our focus over the years has been on promoting sound fisheries management principles, it is very important to our interests as recreational fishermen to expand our advocacy and work with other groups to help limit any negative impacts on the sustainable management of our shared natural resources.

This article shares information on the impacts of plastics on fish reproduction and health, and we ask that you bring issues like this to our attention.  As our GRC leaders expand our understanding of new issues, we also ask that you consider helping our GRC team to cover the many issues that need our attention.

As an important side note, many of our Baltimore Chapter members have spent time working with our friends at the Back River Restoration Committee(BRRC), to help their efforts in clearing trash from the Back River watershed.  More information on BRRC can be found on their website, and by following their facebook page.

While CCA Maryland works hard on behalf of our members and fellow recreational fishermen, we urge you to provide your personal input on these matters as well.  The general assembly website is a great place to start for contact information, and always feel free to drop us a line if you’d like more information on any pending legislation.  General Assembly Website

We are always working to Conserve, Promote, and Enhance Maryland’s Marine Resources, and rely on the grass roots support of hard working volunteers and generous sponsors.  Please consider attending one of our many meetings or events, and asking any volunteer leaders or our Executive Director how you can help CCA Maryland.