Com­mis­sion­ers dis­cuss en­vi­ron­men­tal sum­mit

Record Observer - - NEWS - By KRIS­TIAN JAIME [email protected]­pub.com

CEN­TRE­VILLE — Com­mis­sion­ers heard a pre­sen­ta­tion at their Tues­day, Dec. 11 meet­ing from Robert New­berry of the Del­marva Fish­eries As­so­ci­a­tion Inc. and Chip Ma­cleod of the Ma­cleod Law Group con­cern­ing the Ch­e­sa­peake En­vi­ron­men­tal Sum­mit.

Com­mis­sion­ers voted unan­i­mously to give sum­mit or­ga­niz­ers $2,000 for the event slated to take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 15 at the State Se­nate Build­ing in An­napo­lis, although the Clean Ch­e­sa­peake Coali­tion and the Del­marva Fish­eries As­so­ci­a­tion Inc. had yet to con­firm some de­tails.

“This will be my 32nd year go­ing to An­napo­lis, and it al­ways seemed like the water­men, farm­ers and poul­try pro­duc­ers were left out,” New­berry said. “This sum­mit will in­volve the De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Mary­land De­part­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment, the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and all of the water­men groups.”

The Del­marva Fish­eries As­so­ci­a­tion Inc., Mary­land Water­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion, Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Com­mer­cial Fish­er­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion and Mary­land Oys­ter­men’s As­so­ci­a­tion will dis­cuss is­sues such as wa­ter qual­ity and con­ser­va­tion as one en­tity with state agen­cies.

New­berry said there is a crit­i­cal oys­ter sea­son ap­proach­ing as well as is­sues with the fish­ing of striped bass, wa­ter qual­ity at the Conowingo Dam and dredg­ing in some lo­ca­tions. Fi­nan­cial sup­port has also been pro­vided by com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions to help fund the sum­mit.

The other main ob­jec­tive is to pro­vide state agen­cies and leg­is­la­tures with the cor­rect in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing fish­ing and the over­all qual­ity of the bay from those who work in it on a daily ba­sis.

“When we make this pre­sen­ta­tion, ev­ery­body that comes will be able to hear the truth out of the horse’s mouth. I’ve sat at hun­dreds of these com­mit­tee meet­ings and much of the in­for­ma­tion these agen­cies and leg­is­la­tures have is mis­rep­re­sented or mis­lead­ing,” New­berry said.

Ma­cleod, gen­eral coun­sel for the Clean Ch­e­sa­peake Coali­tion, echoed New­berry’s sen­ti­ments ex­plain­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s in­volve­ment is due to many of these is­sues af­fect­ing the same en­ti­ties.

“What’s hap­pened over the last sev­eral years is we’ve been work­ing on these is­sues where there’s nec­es­sary over­lap,” Ma­cleod said. “For ex­am­ple the health of the bay af­fects fish­eries and mat­ters of the oys­ter fish­ing means talk­ing about the most ef­fec­tive way to re­plen­ish those (re­sources). This sum­mit is go­ing to give us a ter­rific op­por­tu­nity in front of leg­is­la­tures to talk about these items.”

Three pan­els will fo­cus on eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges that face work­ing farm­ers and water­men of Mary­land amid on­go­ing Ch­e­sa­peake Bay wa­ter qual­ity im­prove­ment ef­forts.

Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Foun­da­tion data un­der­scores the im­por­tance of a healthy Ch­e­sa­peake Bay with the eco­nomic im­pact to the re­gion now in the bil­lions of dol­lars.

The Ch­e­sa­peake Bay is one of the few places left world­wide where an in­dus­try ex­ists based on har­vest­ing oys­ters from the wild. Dur­ing the past three decades, Mary­land and Vir­ginia have suf­fered more than $4 bil­lion in cu­mu­la­tive an­nual losses be­cause of the de­cline of in­dus­tries re­lated to oys­ter har­vest­ing.

Ch­e­sa­peake Bay water­men sup­ply as much as a third of the na­tion’s blue crabs each year. And the av­er­age com­mer­cial har­vest in Mary­land and Vir­ginia be­tween 2000 and 2009 was more than 55 mil­lion pounds yearly. In 2009, the dock­side value of the blue crab har­vest Bay-wide was ap­prox­i­mately $78 mil­lion. Fur­ther, the de­cline of crabs in the bay be­tween 1998 and 2006 has meant a cu­mu­la­tive loss of about $640 mil­lion to both states.

Striped bass re­main the most pop­u­lar com­mer­cial and recre­ational fish in the bay, gen­er­at­ing roughly $500 mil­lion in eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity re­lated to fish­ing ex­pen­di­tures, travel, and lodg­ing each year.

“This sum­mit will let us frame these is­sues in a way we’ve been try­ing to ad­vo­cate for them for years. For years, we’ve been nip­ping at heels try­ing to get peo­ple to lis­ten about is­sues with the bay. For­tu­nately, with Gov. Ho­gan, he un­der­stands the ex­tent of the prob­lem,” Ma­cleod said.

PHO­TOS BY KRIS­TIAN JAIME

Robert New­berry, right, of the Del­marva Fish­eries As­so­ci­a­tion Inc. and Chip Ma­cleod of the Ma­cleod Law Group present the out­line of the en­vi­ron­men­tal sum­mit.

The Queen Anne’s County Com­mis­sion­ers voted unan­i­mously to give sum­mit or­ga­niz­ers $2,000 for the event slated to take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 15 at the State Se­nate Build­ing in An­napo­lis.

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