Watermen consider suit over crabbing ...

Watermen consider suit over crabbing rules

There are 18 comments on the Baltimore Sun story from Apr 22, 2008, titled Watermen consider suit over crabbing rules. In it, Baltimore Sun reports that:

Chesapeake Bay watermen are considering legal action over proposals in Maryland and Virginia to reduce the crab harvest, arguing that the states shouldn't punish crabbers for government's failure to clean up ...

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Baltimore Sun.

Gene Soccolich

Brewster, NY

#1 Apr 22, 2008
Here's the real solution:

COMMERCIAL FISHING CALLS FOR CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT

WE, THE PEOPLE, legal residents of the United States and members of the commercial fishing community, to achieve a more sustainable fishery and fishing industry, request formal congressional oversight hearings on the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) stewardship, which we find to be grossly deficient, causing severe economic harm, and in which we proclaim our vote of no confidence.

Fishery resource assessments, diligently conducted by marine scientists, are only part of the data equation needed to establish credible optimum yield estimates and develop true ecosystem based management. Marine fisheries, due to their primitive nature and extreme sensitivity to climatic changes, are at the vanguard of global warming economic impact.

NMFS has failed to promulgate any comprehensive methodology for assessing the impacts of such environmental variability on reproductive patterns, migration routes and ecosystem relationships. NMFS instead has placed the entire onus of resource depletion on commercial fishermen with constraints recklessly causing severe harm and suffering to the fishing community. Fishermen, who have obeyed NMFS regulations, now find themselves and their fishing communities on the brink of economic disaster.

Federal court recently has rebuked our government for its gross lack of comprehensively addressing the impacts of global warming, and as corroborated in a September 2007 report by the Government Accountability Office. U.S. fisheries already must operate in an unfair competitive arena of fisheries subsidized by other nations, from where imports now greatly surpass U.S. harvests. Our fisheries no longer can sustain more elitist federal disregard. That the U.S. demands the destructive discard of all inadvertent by-catch in the face of world hunger only manifests a nation’s arrogance. NMFS’s expedited resource recovery plans will turn the small fisherman, unable financially to sustain more constraints without due compensation, inhumanely into the ultimate by-catch.

Without comprehensive assessments on potential environmental change impacts on marine fisheries, optimum yields must not be lowered without providing equal compensation to affected fishing communities. The government legally cannot have it both ways, however in the absence of comprehensive impact data, compensation also cannot be ascertained. Historical data and resource assessments no longer are sufficient to meet baseline scientific requirements to substantiate NMFS’s recovery plans.

No industry could reasonably operate in a business manner under such a constant barrage of abrupt emergency actions and regulatory changes by NMFS for over a decade. Immediate congressional oversight of NMFS’s assessment methodology, not its simple consideration of environmental variability, is the next logical action to the findings of the federal court and the GAO. Taking no action only would condone the present suffering of our fishing communities and set dangerous federal precedent for placing other sectors of our nation’s agricultural communities in similar jeopardy of economic distress and increased foreign dependence. We trust our congressional representatives to have both the will and the wisdom to take rightful action and stop this bleeding.

THE PORT OF NEW BEDFORD BUSINESS ALLIANCE
Join signers from over twenty states to date and sign online at: www.portnewbedford.org
gwb

Glen Burnie, MD

#2 Apr 22, 2008
The natural resources that are taken from the waters in and around the U.S. are there for all U.S. citizens. For the commecial people to sue is another sign of their arrogance and greed. They only care about maing money from a resource that can't go on without preservation from the American people.This article on crabs being saved for future generations is the right thing to do. Crabbers should have realized from years past that the crab population was dwindling to low numbers.They always cry when they were threaten with restrictions in the past. Technology people had to find new employment when that field fell apart years ago.
Pat

Manhattan, KS

#3 Apr 22, 2008
"They're regulating the heritage of the Chesapeake Bay out of existence."

...and if they don't, your clients will overfish the crabs and thus their own livelihood out of existence. Try checking out the bigger picture once in a while, ok?
Andy

Hampstead, MD

#4 Apr 22, 2008
What ever you do, the watermen will cry fowl. It is bad enough if you go crabbing now near a shore line, they are there with all the lines and you cannot put one in. They are just as responsible for over crabbing and fowling the water like every else. Now the time is here, they have to chop in like everyone else.
Scott G

Frederick, MD

#5 Apr 22, 2008
gwb wrote:
The natural resources that are taken from the waters in and around the U.S. are there for all U.S. citizens. For the commecial people to sue is another sign of their arrogance and greed. They only care about maing money from a resource that can't go on without preservation from the American people.This article on crabs being saved for future generations is the right thing to do. Crabbers should have realized from years past that the crab population was dwindling to low numbers.They always cry when they were threaten with restrictions in the past. Technology people had to find new employment when that field fell apart years ago.
Exactly what I thought as I read the first two paragraphs. Who are these arrogant b******s who think they are entitled to rape a natural resource that should be available to ALL of us? You know, in most commericial industries, you have to provide your own product through your own means. In this case, they are actually raping the bay of a natural resource so they can in turn sell it to us, when we are just as entitled to it as them. Maybe its time they get real jobs. You want to keep crabbing? Buy a piece of private property, raise and sell your own crabs. THATS how the rest of the world works.
David

Baltimore, MD

#6 Apr 22, 2008
I just cannot understand how the waterman THINK ?
get serious

Lutherville Timonium, MD

#7 Apr 22, 2008
Gene Soccolich wrote:
Here's the real solution:
COMMERCIAL FISHING CALLS FOR CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT
WE, THE PEOPLE, legal residents of the United States and members of the commercial fishing community, to achieve a more sustainable fishery and fishing industry, request formal congressional oversight hearings on the National Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) stewardship, congressional oversight of NMFS’s ETC ETC
stop this bleeding.
THE PORT OF NEW BEDFORD BUSINESS ALLIANCE
Join signers from over twenty states to date and sign online at: www.portnewbedford.org
Gene of New Bedford--
You guys fished out all the cod and haddock. It's rather absurd to blame the government now when you all did the best you could block any plans to manage the resource. What trash fish are you after now?
The waterman in the Chesapeake are doing the same, although I personally would like to see a pollution lawsuit. I'd favor a ban on lawn fertilizer for one -- and for golf courses not to mention improved sewage treatment. My main point is the cod and haddock were not eliminated by global warming, they were fished out in the 70-80's when people were still talking about global cooling.
get serious

Lutherville Timonium, MD

#8 Apr 22, 2008
The waterman hear what they want to hear. It is their livelihood after all. The politicians have not guts. Practically speaking they should just pay the waterman NOT to crab. The craziest thing is oysters. They still rip up the bottom of the bay power dredging for oysters when the population is almost gone. That's just nuts. they are even paid to dredge them up and dump them elsewhere. Of course maryland is not alone in stupidity. Va allows winter dredging of female crabs and now their waterman are suing to be allowed to continue to eliminate the population?
POOKIE

Rosedale, MD

#9 Apr 22, 2008
Pookie say...I gotsta axe...Why fishmen need suits ??? Wunt dey get dirty ?
Scott G

Frederick, MD

#10 Apr 22, 2008
A huge part of the pollution in the Bay is from human excrement because the regulatory agancies allow overflow from water treatments during rainstorms. They bever forcreced municipalities like Baltimore to upgrade and repait their systems. There is your aglae blooms. But that doesnt counter the fact waterman continue to overfish the Bay, just like they have much of the earths oceans. Somehow they believe it is their God given right to fish a species in to extinction. Here the state is saying "wake up, it can rebound if we have a few years of pain". Crabs grow fast. but NNNOOOOooo, that can't get through the fishermans skulls. Fine, let them fish them all out, but dont give them one ounce of public assistance once they complete the collapse of the species. We can still eat crabs from Vietnam, Indonisia and North Carloina. They can sit n their boats as they rot realizing too late, they screwed up from getting greedy. No different from the sub-prime lenders. They are killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Since no crab meat I eat is from MD, it really wont affect me at all. Go ahead, wipe them out, but dont beg for assistance in two years once you wiped them out.
get serious

Lutherville Timonium, MD

#11 Apr 23, 2008
Scott G
Good point in that the state and the feds have never put up enough money to fix the storm runoff/sewage issue in either Balt or DC. Along with the damn lawn fertilizer! What I can't figure is how a constuency with very limited votes after all -- the waterman and the related businesses -- control the politicians. I think it's due to the fact the the enviros can't break with their romantic view of waterman to put more pressure on the pol's. Otherwise the vast majority really aren't going to waste a lot of effort when there are things like huge tax increases and gas prices to worry about. As you say crab meat and oysters for that matter (there are some great ones farmed in maine and canada) do come from places other than the chesapeake.
Waterwoman

AOL

#12 Apr 23, 2008
My husband and I work the Bay. We do as our families have done for generations. We should decide the harvest based on our needs not the state or the government. How are we to feed our children and put gasoline into our boats if we can't harvest enough? Are you going to pay my bills?
KrabKing

Dallas, TX

#13 Apr 23, 2008
Who are you people to tell me how to make a living? Crabs are what I earn my living from. Telling me to cut my harvest is like me telling you your hours have been cut to 24 a week instead of 40.

How'd you like that?
Scott G

Frederick, MD

#14 Apr 23, 2008
Waterwoman wrote:
My husband and I work the Bay. We do as our families have done for generations. We should decide the harvest based on our needs not the state or the government. How are we to feed our children and put gasoline into our boats if we can't harvest enough? Are you going to pay my bills?
Just like the rest of the 100 million or so workers in the US. You find another career. I'd loooovvvveeee to have worked at a McDonalds, hit on the young girls, take no concerns home and flexible hours. But you know what? It would never have paid the bills, so I went into accounting. And again, you are harvesting something that is no more yours than mine, and then trying to sell it back to me, so I have little sympathy. Farmers and cattleman at least but and own their products and raise them. Fisherman do not. But go ahead, fish away, and when its gone in a couple years, the pain will be twofold, and there will be no chance of a rebound at that point.
Pete

Annapolis, MD

#15 Apr 23, 2008
They do harvest seafood, but they've been harvesting seafood for hundreds of years. What has changed is the amount of pollution making its way into the bay."

True statement; but what is not mentioned that has also changed is the methods of harvesting seafood have become dramatically more effective in the last 100 years. You can start with the use of the commercial crab pot. Most serious waterman in Maryland are licensed to use 900 pots although it's a safe guess some are using in excess of 1,000. Next, look at the hydraulic winders that are used to haul the pots aboard the boat. If waterman still pulled their pots by hand do you think they would be fishing 450-500 pots per day? Commercial trotliners once crabbed with a dip net and hand dipped the crabs. Now a large number use patent dippers where all is needed is to operate the boat along the trotline and the crabs automatically fall in the dipper.
While it's true some waterman have continued family traditions sometime ago their was such an influx of persons wanting to become waterman the state had to limit entry into who could receive a Tidal Fish License. Also, don't forget the "waterman" who feel compelled to illegally set their crab pots in tributaries. What does all this mean? More people attempting to catch fewer crabs with better euipment. Anytime you place a monetary value on a natural resources the resource will suffer. If you really want to start to correct the probelm; put a moratorium on crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay as was done with Striped Bass a few years back.
CMB

Brooklyn, MD

#16 Apr 23, 2008
Waterwoman and KrabKing... What part of "finite resource" don't you get?? Do you think it's just one big cooincidence that as consumption has gone up, crab harvests have been declining for years? You think the regulations are bad now? How do you think your livlihood will be when there are no crabs left to catch? Then you'll be there with your hand out asking for the tax payers to give you a handout. If you care so much about preserving your way of life, how about starting with preserving the resource from which you derive your way of life.
Pat

Manhattan, KS

#17 Apr 23, 2008
Waterwoman wrote:
My husband and I work the Bay. We do as our families have done for generations. We should decide the harvest based on our needs not the state or the government. How are we to feed our children and put gasoline into our boats if we can't harvest enough? Are you going to pay my bills?
And what will you do when you've fished the crabs to extinction and there aren't any left to harvest? The government needs to regulate things like this because y'all obviously lack the big picture perspective to manage the whole system yourselves.
Scott G

Frederick, MD

#18 Apr 24, 2008
Waterwoman wrote:
My husband and I work the Bay. We do as our families have done for generations. We should decide the harvest based on our needs not the state or the government. How are we to feed our children and put gasoline into our boats if we can't harvest enough? Are you going to pay my bills?
And while I am not totally unsympathetic, I do believe in assisting in a 2-3 yr moratorium/cut. However, I thing that assistance needs to be decided NOW. And then, if the waterman sue, that assitance should be reduced by 10x every dollar every other MD resident has to pay in court and lawyer costs.

If you want to know another option, here it is. Keep current limits, but have an auction on commercial licenses of which there are only 500, as opposed to the estimated 1,000 crabbers out there. The successful 500 have their same life, the 500, well, you have to make the transition. No more business as usual. Pick your poison. All of the waterman have down years for a couple, or you force 500 out of the business here and now.
You have to ask though, why is the bay so polluted now? MD does not exactly have a burgeoning population the last 20 yrs. Farming is on the decline ,(the oh so mentioned "fertilizers excuse"). Maybe it is because the oysters were so overharvested, you no longer have the Bay filter there once was? Oysters and other such bivalves are always credited with cleaning water, and look what has happened the last 20 years. Another result of the watermans demands to maintain their living. Nature exists in equilibrium. Once you disrupt that in one area, it will cascade. And I am a Rep no less.

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