Somerset to wait on opinion about rockfish limit change

PRINCESS ANNE — The Kent County Commissioners are appealing to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources that it reconsider a 20.5 percent reduction in commercial striped bass harvest limits.

Somerset County Commissioner President Rex Simpkins, with support of his fellow commissioners, opted to wait until a new DNR secretary is appointed by the Larry Hogan administration, “and bring this up again.”

Kent County’s commissioners contend there is no shortage of striped bass and that the reduction “will have negative effects on our local economy.” In addition, the reduction is being applied only on commercial harvests, which is an uneven application of the catch limits.

What annoys the three member board as well was the fact that the change was “without any official notification or discussion with the elected officials of the counties whose economies will be directly affected.” These counties were “left totally in the dark and only heard of this proposal through the media.”

The catch limit today is “a very small fraction” of that it was prior to the 1986 rockfish moratorium, and to take another 20.5 percent is viewed by the Kent County leaders as an “intentional effort to do away with the commercial fishing all together.” They state there is no shortage of striped bass, and “many experts would argue that one of the reasons for the crab shortage is that we have actually an overabundance of striped bass.”

Copies of the letter were sent to Governor-elect Hogan along with House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Mike Miller who were also re-elected.

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