- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Recreational anglers everywhere need to keep a close eye on and be ready to protest one federal and one state proposal that could change their lives.

The first came in a June 12 memorandum from the White House establishing an interagency ocean policy task force led by the chair of the Council on Environmental Quality to better meet the nation’s “stewardship responsibilities for the oceans, coasts and Great Lakes.”

The task force will be composed of senior-policy level officials from the executive departments, agencies and offices represented on the Committee on Ocean Policy. Within 90 days, it will develop recommendations for a national policy to protect, maintain and restore the health of ocean, coastal and Great Lakes ecosystems and resources.

That sounds good, but it didn’t take long for Phil Morlock, the director of Environmental Affairs for the Shimano American Corporation and the chairman of the American Sportfishing Association’s Freshwater Government Affairs Committee, to ask some questions.

“Where is the science basis in support of this overall direction?” Morlock said. “Where is the public consultation with the recreational fishing industry? Where is the financial support coming from for this effort?”

The memorandum states that such national policy shall be consistent with international law, including customary international law as reflected in the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Morlock and others now want to know how the United Nations comes into play in the Great Lakes or as concerns U.S. jurisdiction of coastal regions. Chris Goddard, the executive director of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, had not been told such a directive was coming from the White House. Goddard had not seen the memorandum before it was published in the Federal Register.

Morlock fears that, if the policy is implemented, places in the Great Lakes suddenly will see off-limits sites like certain saltwater Marine Protective Areas now in place in the Pacific Ocean. Morlock is certain all this could become part of moves by radical environmentalists to promote permanent fishing closures.

“They are insisting on ‘protection’ where no threat exists,” he said.

Maryland aquaculture zones - The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Service is considering establishing new aquaculture enterprise zones (AEZs). These are areas in the Chesapeake Bay that would be set aside for the raising of “aquatic animals,” as the state puts it. A bill was introduced in the 2009 session of the Maryland General Assembly that requires the department to establish such zones, possibly in the Patuxent, West and Rhode rivers. But watch out, recreational anglers. This sounds like certain waters might be shut down for sport fishermen and set aside for commercial interests.

“AEZs are essential for promoting the growth of Maryland’s aquaculture industry,” DNR fisheries director Tom O’Connell said. “Having these areas approved early will allow for a streamlined lease process that will get projects into the water more quickly.”

New fishing publication - Look for the first edition of the Maryland Fisherman’s Annual at a newsstand near you. You’ll be treated to 172 pages of Maryland fish happenings - the wheres, whens and hows of fishing from western Maryland trout or river muskies clear to the Chesapeake Bay and to Ocean City’s surf and offshore waters. Articles, photos, maps, tide tables and even recipes are included, and if you’re looking for boat launch ramps, fishing opportunities or valuable tips, you’ll find them in what amounts to an improved version of the old Fishing in Maryland annual. The publishers are not connected to the former annual.

What had me wondering was this state-targeted annual’s inclusion of articles about western sturgeon, Pennsylvania trout and Virginia’s bridge-tunnel stripers. However, the $9.95 asking price might be worth it when you begin to connect on fish in places you didn’t even know existed.

• Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected] Read Mueller’s Inside Outside blog at washingtontimes.com/sports.

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