Sup­port for the Na­tional Aquar­ium not jus­ti­fied this time

Record Observer - - Sports -

Bal­ti­more Canyon a sanc­tuar y?

I re­cently read with some dis­be­lief that the folks rep­re­sent­ing the Na­tional Aquar­ium in Bal­ti­more are seek­ing to make the Bal­ti­more Canyon area off the At­lantic Coast the na­tion’s first Ur­ban Na­tional Ma­rine Sanc­tuar y. Dis­be­lief be­cause the canyon area sup­ports a multi-mil­lion dol­lar fish­ing in­dus­try, which pro­vides a lot of recre­ation and food for an­glers through­out the Mid-At­lantic re­gion.

Ap­pro­pri­ately, the char­ter boat in­dus­try in Ocean City is alarmed.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Aquar­ium’s on­line pe­ti­tion drive, a des­ig­na­tion of the na­tion’s first Ur­ban Na­tional Ma­rine Sanc­tu­ary for the Bal­ti­more Canyon “presents a unique op­por­tu­nity to con­nect an ur­ban pop­u­la­tion to the eco­log­i­cal trea­sure us­ing cut­ting edge deep sea ex­plo­ration tech­nol­ogy.”

Fish­ing in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives know a sanc­tu­ary des­ig­na­tion could even­tu­ally limit, re­strict, or per­haps pro­hibit recre­ational and com­mer­cial fish­ing in the canyon.

At­tor­ney Mark Crop­per, rep­re­sent­ing ma­rina own­ers, char­ter boat cap­tains, and other stake­hold­ers, said:

“The one truism in all of this is, if the Bal­ti­more Canyon is not des­ig­nated, then we have noth­ing to worry about. Even if they say there will be no lim­i­ta­tions or re­stric­tions on fish­ing, it is very easy to change that af­ter the des­ig­na­tion. It would be at the po­lit­i­cal whim of who is pres­i­dent or Sec­re­tary of Com­merce at the time.”

While I sup­port the over­all ef­forts of the Na­tional Aquar­ium, this par­tic­u­lar ef­fort is not wor­thy of sup­port, sim­ply be­cause it’s not needed.

Ac­cord­ing to the aquar­ium folks, “Prox­im­ity to the Bal­ti­more Canyon and Bal­ti­more’s wealth of sci­en­tific and ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, sup­ported by the ed­u­ca­tional and in­ter­pre­ta­tive ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the Na­tional Aquar­ium — which hosts over 1.3 mil­lion vis­i­tors and ed­u­cates over 150,000 youth an­nu­ally — could cre­ate valu­able op­por­tu­ni­ties for Aquar­ium guests to bet­ter ap­pre­ci­ate the trea­sures of the Canyon and en­gage stu­dents who oth­er­wise might not have ac­cess to STEM ca­reers in a city where they are needed, en­cour­ag­ing in­vest­ment in Bal­ti­more and our deep seas.”

That doesn’t re­ally make sense. Sci­en­tists can study the area as much as they want al­ready. There’s no need to des­ig­nate the canyon area as a sanc­tu­ary. There’s also no need to leave an­glers out of the eco­log­i­cal picture.

Ap­par­ently, the aquar­ium’s fund-rais­ing and grant pur­poses are more im­por­tant than the thou­sands of peo­ple who en­joy fish­ing off Ocean City.

* * * Trial up­date While we’re on the sub­ject of off­shore fish­ing, a fed­eral judge has ap­proved an ex­pe­dited start date for the trial in the law­suit in­volv­ing an al­leged rules vi­o­la­tion in the 2016 White Mar­lin Open.

U.S. Dis­trict Court Judge Richard Ben­nett had con­sid­ered a sched­ul­ing or­der with a start date no ear­lier than Sept. 18, 2017 for the suit aimed at re­solv­ing a dis­puted rules vi­o­la­tion of the win­ner of the white mar­lin cat­e­gory in the tour­na­ment and the dis­tri­bu­tion of $2.8 mil­lion in prize money. How­ever, a start date for the trial has now been set for May 22, 2017, which will en­sure that the suit will be re­solved well be­fore next year’s tour­na­ment.

A court doc­u­ment as­serts that the catch time of the win­ning 76.5-pound white mar­lin was al­tered on the of­fi­cial catch re­port. Ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment, the re­port ap­pears to show that an ini­tial time of 8:15 a.m. was en­tered but then al­tered to 9:05 a.m. Per tour­na­ment rules, boats could not put lines in the wa­ter be­fore 8:30 a.m. on each of the five of­fi­cial fish­ing days. *** Speck­led trout in Florida I took a break from the tree stand this past week and headed to Florida for a few days to min­gle with fam­ily and get in a lit­tle fish­ing with Sher­man Bay­nard down in Port Char­lotte.

We fished on Mon­day and the air tem­per­a­tures were in the 80s. The wind was blow­ing at a steady clip, but that’s of­ten good for fish­ing. With the tide low, our best luck came fish­ing along a bank of man­groves be­ing pounded by a south south­west wind. We caught and mostly re­leased speck­led trout, la­dy­fish, snook, and Jack Crevalle. Word was red­fish pick­ings were slim and we did not catch any.

The morn­ing’s bite started out slow but picked up along with the wind. We caught a lot of speck­led trout run­ning shad tail lures over scat­tered deeper pock­ets where the fish liked to hang out.

White pelicans, egrets, herons, os­prey, jump­ing mul­let, and plenty of other wildlife also kept us en­ter­tained.

On Thurs­day, TV news­cast­ers were telling view­ers to bun­dle up since the highs were ex­pected to be in the 60s. * * * Duck blind know-it-all The Amer­i­can white pel­i­can can hold three gal­lons of wa­ter in its bill. Fol­low me on Twit­ter @csknauss / email me at ck­nauss@star­dem.com

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