- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 30, 2001

The lack of Chesapeake Bay blue crabs is everybody's fault except for the commercial watermen who go after them. So says Terrence N. Conway, the chairman of a group known as the Blue Crab Conservation Coalition a harmless sounding name for the commercial crab sector.
In a recent issue of the Bay Journal, Conway wrote, "We are at a crisis [point] in the management of the Chesapeake Bay resources… . How would you feel if you were blamed for the environmental developments affecting the Bay that were beyond your control?"
Conway goes on to list a series of measures that would help save the crab population. Please, refrain from laughing until you've finished reading the following two:
"1. [The watermen] want the regulation and licensing of so-called recreational crabbers. They are taking record amounts of crabs from the Bay each season. We estimate they are taking one half of the [total] crab supply. The image of the tourist using a chicken neck to catch a few crabs is misleading and inaccurate.
"2. We want the rockfish conservationists and sports fishing industry to shoulder their share of the Bay preservation burden by opening up the Bay to increased fishing. Rockfish are crab predators that gobble up millions of crabs a year. We want the state to increase the catch limits of charter boats to help diminish the rampant oversupply of croaker fish in the Bay, which also prey heavily on the Bay crab population."
I haven't quite figured out how you can shoulder your share of a Bay preservation burden by catching and eating even more rockfish than those that are caught now.
Then Conway goes on to ask for a kind of Bay fisheries science that can be understood by the watermen whatever that means and ends up by saying, "Watermen are the salt of the earth. If they vanish, how will our precious Bay be savored?"
I don't understand that last sentence, but if the commercial crab pots vanish I know there will be plenty of crabs for me because I'm willing to catch my own. I'll even share my catch with neighbors as I've done on many occasions in years gone by.
Seriously, if you want to save the crab, don't mess around with the watermen's work hours. Simply increase the minimum width from 5 to 5 1/4 inches. That would do it. All the other help measures are fluff. End of argument.

National Fishing and Boating Week Ready to spend a little time on the water? Why not celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week, starting Friday and lasting through June 10. Hundreds of local events in communities across the country have been scheduled that will provide a chance for families and friends to have fun while learning about two of our nation's favorite pastimes recreational boating and fishing.
"Today's families are busier than ever," said Bruce Matthews, the president of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF). "We hope people will shut down their computers [but not until after they go to the RBFF's Web site], turn off the television set and discover how recreational boating and fishing offer meaningful, quality time to reconnect with family, friends and the environment. It's hard not to relax when you are on the water."
Studies show that in the past 20 years children's outdoor activities have declined by 50 percent, family dinners have decreased by 33 percent and family vacations have decreased by 28 percent.
Enter fishing and boating, which can provide a positive experience all families can enjoy together. There is no better time to learn more about it than during National Fishing and Boating Week. Planned events will include demonstrations and lots of hands-on activities for participants of all ages. From knot tying to casting to properly releasing a fish catch, National Fishing and Boating Week events can provide an enriching experience.
To discover where and when various events will be held, log on to www.NationalFishingandBoatingWeek.org. If you're not into computers but want to find out more about National Fishing and Boating Week, call Stephanie Hussey, the RBFF Program Manager, at 703/519-0013, ext. 101.
Web visitors can find a complete schedule of activities near their homes or vacation destinations and also learn about state-sponsored, free fishing days when licenses will not be required.
E-mail: [email protected]


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