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I guess old news loses its value. Up here on the coast I used to drag a grapple on the prawning grounds (just about anywhere at 300 ft) after the yachts went back to their clubs. Record was 5 in a day around Desolation.
 

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Essentially, the derelict crab pot recovery program was nothing more than a giveaway program for out of work commercial watermen. Keep in mind the watermen of Maryland and Virginia have brought about their own demise. They wiped out the oysters, wiped out the striped bass and are in the process of doing that again, wiped out the crabs, white perch, yellow perch, eels, shad, herring, clams, you name it, they wiped them out by commercial exploitation. Now they're out of things to wipe out and they want unemployment, which is not available for VA watermen because of their self employment and tax status. Consequently, someone dreamed up a program that would employ them by the state government - good job by their standards. $300 a day, plus expenses is far more than most made for a good day crabbing.

Several sources report that commercial crabbers lose approximately 10 to 15 percent of their crab pots every season - which translates into one hell of a lot of crab pots each year. Now, there was proposed legislature to make those crab pots in such a manner so that one side panel would fall off after the post was in the water for more than 90 days. The legislature failed because the watermen fought the issue, claiming it was too expensive and too much work to replace the special hog rings that holds the panels in place. Now they're working for the state of Virginia, recovering their own derelict pots - great job if you can get it.

Gary :cool:
 

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Toss some trash out the car window while there's a state trooper behind you in his car. He will arrest you, then you can go out on the road cleanup crews, and get paid a couple bucks a day for picking up trash, some of which may be yours. ;)

Good Luck,

Gary :cool:
 

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Essentially, the derelict crab pot recovery program was nothing more than a giveaway program for out of work commercial watermen. Keep in mind the watermen of Maryland and Virginia have brought about their own demise. They wiped out the oysters, wiped out the striped bass and are in the process of doing that again, wiped out the crabs, white perch, yellow perch, eels, shad, herring, clams, you name it, they wiped them out by commercial exploitation. Now they're out of things to wipe out and they want unemployment, which is not available for VA watermen because of their self employment and tax status. Consequently, someone dreamed up a program that would employ them by the state government - good job by their standards. $300 a day, plus expenses is far more than most made for a good day crabbing.

Several sources report that commercial crabbers lose approximately 10 to 15 percent of their crab pots every season - which translates into one hell of a lot of crab pots each year. Now, there was proposed legislature to make those crab pots in such a manner so that one side panel would fall off after the post was in the water for more than 90 days. The legislature failed because the watermen fought the issue, claiming it was too expensive and too much work to replace the special hog rings that holds the panels in place. Now they're working for the state of Virginia, recovering their own derelict pots - great job if you can get it.

Gary :cool:
As a crabber I take great offense to your statement here.No crabber wants to lose any equipment or damage the bay that their living is dependent on.You're putting a very large group of people all in one boat.there are bad ones as in any industry,but as a whole its a group of hard working dedicated waterman.You should try to be up setting a line or pots in the dark,working a long day unbaiting and rebaiting taking your catch to sell,going to bed and doing it all again the next day.I'm new here and don't want to stir any pots but hate to see uninformed prejudicial statements.
 

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Joe, I covered the bay beat for the better part of 35 years before I retired from outdoor writing. Yes, I have been on the water before dawn, pulled, cleaned and baited crab pots, and I agree, there are some hard working watermen in Chesapeake Bay. I was out on the bay in the dead of winter photographing the U.S. Coast Guard pulling 8 miles of illegal gill net from near the mouth of the Choptank River. I have photographs of dozens of fike nets filled with dead and dying yellow perch in the Gunpowder and Bush Rivers, nets that were illegally set a month prior to the season opening. I have underwater photos of the ocean floor where once thriving natural reefs and shellfish beds were destroyed by scallop draggers.


This photo was taken a month prior to the opening of yellow perch season. Note, there are several striped bass, largemouth bass, shad, and even a few chain pickerel in the net. All of these fish would have very quickly died had it not been for the efforts of APG law enforcement agency spotting the illegal nets. None of these fish could have legally been sold in Maryland. The netter was later apprehended by federal officers, and sentenced to a year of work release. He was shipping the yellow perch to Ohio, illegally.

As for the stripers eating all the crabs, keep in mind that when we had lots of striped bass throughout their range, we had loads of crabs too. Striped bass have always consumed tiny crabs, not all of which are blue crabs. Many are mud crabs, and a host of other crab species found in Chesapeake Bay and along the Atlantic coast in the bays behind the barrier islands. And, keep in mind that the only reason striped bass consume baby blue crabs and soft crabs is because the commercial harvest of Atlantic menhaden, the prime forage species for striped bass and most other top line predators along the east and gulf coast. Watermen out of Reedville, VA, Mississippi and Delaware devastated the stocks of this species to the point of near extinction. Just the same as the commercial harvest has devastated striped bass, oysters, soft shell clams, hard shell clams, and a host of other once viable species. Pollution didn't wipe them out - overharvesting the species did, and there is an enormous amount of documentary evidence that conclusively proves this is true.

I've examined the contents of hundreds of striped bass stomachs, and was part of an extensive study conducted by Jim Price, Ben Florence, Joe Boone and a host of marine biologists from states throughout the stripers range from NC to Maine. Striped bass, similar to any predator of this size, will consume anything that is smaller than itself. The same holds true with bluefish, croaker, weakfish, speckled trout, red drum, black drum, etc..., all of which eat more crabs than striped bass.

As for CBF, the only thing CBF has done over the past 40 years is perpetuate their own organization with other people's money. Sure, you'll find CBF testifying at various hearings, and I've personally witnessed them testifying against bills that would have been beneficial to the bay and it's fisheries. About the only good thing I know they have done for sure is raise the awareness about pollution in Chesapeake Bay and the sources of the pollution.

Over the years, we have allowed certain individuals to devastate most of our natural resources in the name of commercialism. We did this with our forests, whitetail deer, eastern elk, beaver, cougar, timber wolf, fox, and any species that someone felt was commercially viable. For the most part, much of this was unregulated for centuries. Did you know that until the early 1900s, striped bass were netted and sold as fertilizer? Shad were netted, then gutted during the spring spawning run for their roe, while the meat was thrown away. We market hunted red head ducks on the Susquehanna Flats until there were barely enough left to reproduce. They were plucked, then packed in barrels of ice and shipped by train to Lexington Market in Baltimore. When the redhead population got too low to make it a viable commodity, the commercial hunters switched to black ducks, mallards, canvasbacks, wood ducks, and puddle ducks, until they were nearly extinct. Had it not been for organizations such as Ducks Unlimited, you would be hard pressed to see any ducks right now.

Personally, I think that all commercial watermen throughout the world will eventually be forced into aquaculture. It's the only reasonable way to retain our existing fisheries stocks, yet still be able to provide a viable source of seafood for the people of the world. Currently, the Phillips Corporation, the largest supplier of crab meat in the world, is setting up a large scale aquaculture system for crabs in South East Asia. We already raise several species of fish aquaculturally, including striped bass, tilapia, salmon, bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, channel catfish, rainbow trout, and several other finfish species. Oysters, soft shell clams, hard shell clams, and other shellfish are raised in Chesapeake Bay by watermen who no longer ply the bay's waters in search of depleted wild stocks.

Now, you may not agree with me, but think about what I posted above before shooting the messenger. There's a lot more to this than you can imagine. Now, the one thing that you must also take into consideration is that the commercial watermen, those that legally harvested those species, did so within laws and regulations promulgated by the Departments of Natural Resources of various states. They did what they were allowed to do by law. Unfortunately, DNR still stands for "Do Nothing Right." At least that's the way I look at it. The only reason DNR exists is to protect and enhance the natural resources of the state for ALL the people within the state - not just a handful of commercial watermen, market hunters, loggers, etc... DNR has failed to protect or enhance any natural resource. Think not? Name one natural resource that is in better shape now than it was 50 years ago. And, they refer to their jobs as resource managers. Who in the Hell have they been managing it for - surely not the species itself.

Sorry for the rant, but sometimes this old codger gets a bit carried away,

Gary :cool:
 

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I thought that PMS, politically modified science, was a Canadian singularity. Apparently not. Unless you are waist deep in the situation, your opinions are probably wrong; unless you're a politician and being paid to lie.
 

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Regardless of the causes, no single action is going to fix the Chesapeake.

- Fixing the sewage problem without carefully considered harvest restrictions won't.
- Harvest restrictions without fixing the sewage problem won't.
- Fixing stormwater runoff without fixing the other two problems won't.

The bay is too damaged and too fragile for any one method to have much of an impact. The bay has been under assault from every angle, for decades:
- Local Homeowners and developers.
- Chicken farmers and agriculture.
- Watermen.
- Hydro electric projects.
- Upstream states, such as Pennsylvania that don't share any coastline on the bay.

Recently, studies have shown that bay blue crabs are infected with some sort of virus, which may be a contributing cause of low numbers this year.

All of the watermen I've met on the bay are absolutely deluded.
- They all acknowledge that stocks are dwindling.
- They all refuse to accept that they have ANY impact on the situation. It's 100% someone else's fault.
- They all insist on harvesting as much as they can, as long as they can, and refuse to accept any moderation of any kind.
- They all still think that there will be some sort of fishing stocks to hand down to their children who will take up the family business.

Joe, you seriously underestimate the damage that a "few hundred" waterman can have on an already depleted ecosystem, using modern fishing and netting techniques.

Watermen absolutely lack the "self-preservation gene". These guys are fishing themselves right out of existence. The bay is EMPTY compared to what it was, even 30 years ago.

The waterman's motto has always been:
“Get it today! Hell with t’mar. Leave it t’mar, somebody else’ll get it!”

Cite: Bay Journal - Article: No matter what shells are fired in oyster wars, the resource always loses
 

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Gary,You made some very valid points in your original reply and I wasn't saying you were wrong.There are MANY illegal activities causing some of the problem,illegal activity worldwide being a big part of the problem.Google has a new program designed to help curb illegal activity.My point was just not to put all crabbers in that category,the bulk are decent law abiding citizens,and as stated by joethecobbler there are many contributing factors.The crab population was at 700 million 2 years ago,the last 2 years were very bad.I doubt overharvesting played a factor there.Crab and fish populations take wild swings,yes the illegal activity helps the swings but is not the only cause.I'm taking a break from a Crabbing Forum I'm on due to all of the arguing over cause of the shortage and other things.I truly don't want to argue with anyone here.I respect your opinion as you're obviously schooled in this,but respectfully disagree with some of it.
 

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I have a friend who is oystering as we speak or well type,oystering is making a comeback,he limits every day.I agree with a lot of the points that Bubblehead made.Maryland often doesn't do whats best because of politics and also the desire to see waterman eat.If we put ourselves in the lawmakers shoes,who of us want to take food off of anyones table.I also believe that there are a variety of people and things to blame.I'm a big proponent of reducing Recreation crabbing limits,I think 2 bushel is way too much.I know guys who catch more than they can eat,but do it to be able to pound their chest and say look at me.I think the same is done in fishing.The bay is truly one of our nations treasures,one of the most beautiful places in this country ,and more needs to be done to preserve it and its resources.
 

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there are alot of hidden motivations at play on the bay.as well as much misrepresentation perpetuated by people with hidden agendas.
MD is famous for corruption, from the first setting of the area. today is no different.
quit perpetuating lies and thinking you know more than those who have lived and work the water for hundreds of years.
My only problem with this is that we have seen time and time again that those working the water may know what is best but do not do what is best, otherwise we would not have such small fish/crab populations. Unfortunately greed is a universal problem, and has taken it's toll on fish populations. Sure there are environmental issues as well, but we have not adjusted harvest either by volunteer or by statute to keep supply sustainable. If you don't self regulate, others will step in.
 

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My only problem with this is that we have seen time and time again that those working the water may know what is best but do not do what is best, otherwise we would not have such small fish/crab populations. Unfortunately greed is a universal problem, and has taken it's toll on fish populations. Sure there are environmental issues as well, but we have not adjusted harvest either by volunteer or by statute to keep supply sustainable. If you don't self regulate, others will step in.
I think there's a lot of misinformation being spread here.I've been crabbing many years and have done a lot of research.Truly there are many reasons people think the crab count is down and few agree.But most will tell you overcrabbing is not the reason.Male crabs inseminate a female crab once,she can inseminate herself multiple times with that one insemination,so male crabs aren't regulated.Another reason male crabs aren't regulated is a very short lifespan,3 years is tops and its unlikely they'll survive a harsh winter if close to 3 years.Females are regulated and this is part of the problem,they haven't been regulated enough due to picking houses lobbying,due to the fact that the females are less desirable to sell so they generally are picked and sold as meat.A lot of experts blame the loss of grasses in the bay,the baby crabs have no where to hide and are eaten by fish,other crabs etc.A sook has 1.5 million to 2 million eggs,1 or 2 survive.so predation is a definate problem.Last years winter was extremely harsh and was blamed for a lot of the problem.Not to promote another website ,but all of this info and plenty of arguments can be found on Bluecrab.info.I don't claim to have all of the answers and don't wanna argue with anyone but I've seen and heard many opinions about crabs and n=no one seems to have the answer,as far as fish go I have no opinion as I've done no research.
 

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Yes Joe,i think everything you mentioned are definite contributors and a little help from everyone is needed,natural fertilizers for lawns,better sewage treatment facilities,and CERTAINLY laws need to be changed and people have to stop being pigs.Personally I bought a Commercial crabbing license so I could sell my excess as I often crab multiple times in a week,hopefully I can spend some time sailing and cut back on my crabbing.
 

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Joe, you are right, there are a lot of people that either have agendas or have no idea what they are talking about. I saw many of them at the hearings I attended for 20 years in Annapolis. I watched people testify before the Environmental Matters Committee that had only one thing in mind - profit.

Somewhere above, you talked about a $10 non-resident recreational fishing license. There hasn't been a $10 license in Maryland for more years than I care to remember. How about $22.50, and Maryland is cheap compared to states like Florida where the tab is $47. Now, because I'm now in the category of old fart, the price drops to $5 a year - big deal. They used to be free for children under 16 and seniors over 62. DNR greed once again rears its ugly head.

You also talked about those raising clams and oysters on the bay not doing well. Obviously, you have not been to Cherrystone, VA where a guy named Ballard has made a fortune doing exactly that. And, the last time I interviewed him for a feature story, he was employing more than 100 watermen who worked the clam beds at Cherrystone. I also interviewed several in Maryland that were raising oysters, and their biggest complaint was the ridiculous licensing procedures that the state of Maryland made them go through and the incredible expense the state burdened them with.

You also talked about following the money. Hell, if it were only money, there would be no commercial fishing industry in the nation. The economic ratio of recreational V/S commercial fishing is more than 10:1. Until recently, the Maryland Watermen's Association had Larry Simns as a paid lobbyist. Simns and I worked on some of the same fisheries management committees. Larry was very good at what he did, wining and dining the legislators to get them to vote in favor of the watermen - not the resource. Larry also was a big pal of Pete Jensen, who at one time was director of the Fisheries Service of DNR. After Jensen retired from DNR, he went to work for the Watermen's Association. Such a deal!

Now, lets talk about those grass beds. In areas where there are lots of shellfish, the grass beds flourish. The Susquehanna Flats is a perfect example. Those beds were completely buried in silt from Hurricane Agnes, and despite efforts by Harford Community College to replenish them with supplemental planting of eel grass and wild celery, they continued to die off because sunlight could not penetrate the filthy water. About 15 years ago, a small, freshwater clam took up residency in the muddy bottom of the Flats, and within a few years, their population rapidly expanded. These clams were not commercially viable, therefore, no one would bother harvesting them. The clams did an incredible job of filtering the water, the grass beds throughout the area are so dense it's unbelievable, the water is clear enough to see the bottom in depths to 6 feet inside the flats, and every finfish species in that area thrives.

Clams and oysters were plentiful in the 1960s when I first got out of the Navy and went to work as a commercial diver. One of the more popular locations was an area known as the Dumping Grounds, which is a vast spoil area adjacent to Kent Island north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridges. In 1960, prior to the decimation of the soft shell clam population from hydraulic dredging, the water clarity in that area during the month of October was such that you could see the bay's bottom 20-feet below while scuba diving near the bridge pilings. The oysters were between the old pilings in 3-foot deep clusters that resembled oyster rocks. Then, some damned fool thought it would be a good idea to put in a sewage treatment plant on Kent Island, use chlorine as a primary treatment source, and discharge that wastewater 600 feet out from the island, just north of the bridge. Any clams and oysters that had not been harvested commercially, soon perished from the toxins in chlorine. It took 10 years before the state decided chlorine treatment was bad for the environment and they stopped it's usage as a primary treatment source. Despite seeding the dumping grounds with fossilized oyster shell, the population has never recovered. Same holds true for Kedges Straits, Point Lookout, and lots of other locations where millions of tons of those shells have been dumped.

So, yes, there are lot of folks out there with hidden agendas, and lots more than don't have the knowledge or background to comment on this subject - I'm just not one of them. And, as for time on the water, how about 69 years - is that long enough.

Gary :cool:
 

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Joe, from 1962 through 1975 I worked in the field of Cardio-pulmonary medicine. I traveled to Smith Island many, many times, and worked with a wonderful Australian lady by the name of Margaret Shimmelbush. Marge was a saint, and she was the only medical service on the island for many years. At that time, Smith Island dumped its raw sewage directly into the bay, which I would say was probably not as bad as chlorination, mainly because the volume was not very high at the time. I met and talked with many of the island's watermen, most of which just hoped they could make enough money to get them through the upcoming winter months. I interviewed Allen Tyler, who was, at the time, one of the wealthiest people in the entire area. Allen purchased a lot of crabs, fish and oysters from the island's watermen, and owned the island only large-scale restaurant. Some of the people I interviewed on the island had relatives that were involved in the late 1800s oyster wars with Virginia watermen. That battle still continues today, but no one is wielding shotguns anymore. I spent a week working on a skipjack drudging arsters, a nasty job at best, especially when the weather is brutally cold. So Joe, how much time have you spent making a full-time living from the bay? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Gary :cool:
 
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