2016: 20-inch striped bass and dy­ing oys­ters

Record Observer - - Sports - Fol­low me on Twit­ter @csknauss / email me at ck­nauss@star­dem.com CHRIS KNAUSS

While our state should be com­mended for many ef­forts to sus­tain healthy nat­u­ral re­sources in the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay re­gion this past year, the ridicu­lous 20-inch min­i­mum-size re­stric­tion on har vest­ing striped bass for recre­ational an­glers is not one of them.

The blame ul­ti­mately rests with the Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, led by Mark Bel­ton, which has failed to rep­re­sent the many an­glers who ba­si­cally pay for its op­er­a­tion.

An­glers are gen­er­ally hardy souls and con­tinue to find some fish to catch that are le­gal table fare. Yet, the size re­stric­tion un­der­mines the econ­omy of Mary­land and the well­be­ing of its cit­i­zens as many an­glers need­lessly are forced to choose other more time-ef­fi­cient ac­tiv­i­ties.

An­other re­source man­age­ment fail­ure is the con­tin­ued le­gal har vest of na­tive oys­ters in the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay and trib­u­taries. This fail­ure ul­ti­mately rests with the peo­ple of Mary­land.

Robert Wieland, in a let­ter to the edi­tor this week, de­scribed the pol­i­tics of oys­ter man­age­ment:

Re­sis­tance to Mary­land’s give-them-what-they-want oys­ter man­age­ment pol­icy is taken to con­sti­tute a war on water­men. And any­one who dares voice the ar­gu­ment that we need to se­ri­ously limit wild oys­ter har­vest is pretty well banned from oys­ter man­age­ment dis­cus­sions. Though, when you get the re­search sci­en­tists alone at a party they agree that, yes we need to close down the oys­ter fish­ery. And when you talk with the re­source man­agers in pri­vate, they agree that a mora­to­rium would prob­a­bly im­prove the long-term prospects for the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay oys­ter fish­ery (al­though they also tell you that they will deny that they ever said that). And even when you talk to ex-water­men, most agree that it is past time to give oys­ters a rest.

Ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Ser­vice, a species is added to the En­dan­gered Species list when it is de­ter­mined to be an en­dan­gered or threat­ened species be­cause of any of the fol­low­ing fac­tors:

• the present or threat­ened de­struc­tion, mod­i­fi­ca­tion, or cur­tail­ment of its habi­tat or range;

• over-uti­liza­tion for com­mer­cial, recre­ational, sci­en­tific, or ed­u­ca­tional pur­poses; • dis­ease or pre­da­tion; • the in­ad­e­quacy of ex­ist­ing reg­u­la­tory mech­a­nisms;

• other nat­u­ral or man­made fac­tors af­fect­ing its sur vi­val.

All five fac­tors ap­ply to na­tive oys­ters in Mar yland.

Wieland also stated in his let­ter that the oys­ter fisher y needs a “brave in­di­vid­ual who will wade into this prob­lem and keep mess­ing about un­til he finds an an­swer.”

That brave in­di­vid­ual could be Gover­nor Ho­gan. Fi­nal firearm sea­son The win­ter por­tion of the firearm deer hunt­ing sea­son opens Jan. 6 in Deer Man­age­ment Re­gion B, which in­cludes all but the west­ern­most Mary­land coun­ties. Hunters with a valid hunt­ing li­cense may use firearms to har­vest sika and white-tailed deer.

The sea­son is open Jan. 6 and 7 in all Re­gion B coun­ties and Jan. 8 on pri­vate lands only in Calvert, Caro­line, Car­roll, Charles, Fred­er­ick, Har­ford, Queen Anne’s, Som­er­set, St. Mary’s, Wash­ing­ton (Zone 1) and Worces­ter coun­ties. The sea­son re­mains closed in western Mary­land (Re­gion A). Sika deer hunt­ing sea­son is open in all Re­gion B coun­ties.

“The win­ter sea­son is a pop­u­lar one as it pro­vides an­other op­por­tu­nity to hunt with a firearm af­ter the hol­i­days,” said Wildlife and Her­itage Ser vice Di­rec­tor Paul Peditto. “The hunt helps us meet our deer man­age­ment goals of re­duc­ing the pop­u­la­tion in the tar­geted coun­ties.” Duck blind know-it-all The Chi­nese gi­ant sala­man­der (An­drias da­vidia-nus) is the largest sala­man­der and largest am­phib­ian in the world, reach­ing a length of 180 cm (5.9 ft).

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