News

Shrimp Fishery Moves Forward

Bill Aims To Establish Shrimp Fishery Pilot Program

OCEAN CITY – A bill in the Maryland General Assembly that would clarify the rules for developing a shrimp fishery pilot program in the state with implications for the resort area and the Lower Shore got favorable reports this week from state Senate and House committees.

Shrimp, a staple in most resort area restaurants in many forms, has heretofore always been considered a southern transport and hasn’t been targeted for commercial harvesting in Maryland. However, in recent years, shrimp have been showing up more and more in local waters, off the Atlantic coastline and in the lower end of the Chesapeake Bay.

To that end, last year the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation that would allow the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to create a pilot program to establish a commercial shrimp fishery in the state. Last year’s bill established a potential pilot program for a commercial shrimp industry.

This year, a companion bill now filed in the Senate and House will create a framework by which the pilot program could be implemented by the DNR. Sponsored by State Senator Mary Beth Carozza and others, Senate Bill 537 had its first hearing this week in the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, which responded with a favorable report on Monday. The cross-filed House Bill 1149 also got a favorable report from the Environment and Transportation Committee.

“This bill is clarifying the Department of Natural Resources authority to adopt regulations for the new shrimp fishery,” Carozza said during testimony. “You may recall, the Maryland General Assembly with the support of this committee passed a bill last session to create a new shrimp fishery requiring licensing and gave the DNR broad authority to manage the fishery.”

Carozza during the committee hearing explained a commercial shrimp fishery in Maryland had not been considered before and there is no licensing procedure or regulations in place.

“Previous commercial shrimp harvesting was believed to be only feasible in southern waters,” she said. “However, recent findings have concluded that shrimp are in our Atlantic coast waters and harvesting them will create a new economic boost as well as contribute to local and state revenues.”

Carozza said during testimony there is a renewed interest in developing a commercial shrimp harvesting industry locally.

“During these current uncertain times with supply chain issues and food shortages, our commercial seafood harvesters consistently provide local, relatively inexpensive, unprocessed healthy food choices,” she said. “Our watermen are taking a risk when they engage in a new fishery. They deserve our support in making this pilot program a workable, flexible alternative.”

Carozza called on longtime Ocean City commercial fisherman Sonny Gwin, captain of the Skilligalee out of the West Ocean City harbor, to testify on behalf of the legislation.

“As a lifelong commercial fisherman, I fish for lobsters down in Ocean City, Maryland,” he said. “When I come in, the tourists and consumers alike come down to enjoy fresh lobsters right off my boat.”

Gwin said during the hearing the same situation could evolve if Senate Bill 537 is approved and a commercial shrimp industry is created in Maryland.

“Now that we’re seeing shrimp along our coast, we would to see the DNR have the authority to allow us to catch and sell these shrimp, just as we’ve been doing right off the boat so the tourists and consumers can enjoy them just like they are enjoying seafood down in Ocean City for a lot of years,” he said.

Maryland Oystermen’s Association President Jim Mullin testified the current bill would establish a framework for creating a regulated commercial shrimp industry in the state.

“We are in favor of this bill since the shrimp fishery is an emerging new industry,” he said. “It’s beginning to provide some guidance moving forward for setting up the goals and objectives for a sustainable fishery. This bill could help set up some comprehensive plan may or some type of bylaws. It is very helpful moving forward to set the structure up.”

Carozza said Senate Bill 537 is the next step in the process to create a commercial shrimp industry in Maryland.

“Last year, we passed legislation that established a shrimp fishery, which was the first step,” she said. “Now, we’re coming back to say we need to put the guidelines and regulations in place for the second step to move forward with the pilot program.”

Maryland Watermen’s Association President Robert Brown said vessels are currently catching shrimp, but without regulations and licensing, it’s not targeted at this point.

“Right now, it’s a bycatch,” he said. “There are no regulations on the emerging shrimp fishery.  It doesn’t say we can’t keep them, but it does say we can sell them. There is no license for them or regulations.”


Parents Want Transparency

Follow the links to read Senator Carozza in the news this week:

Parents want curriculum transparency | Opinion | oceancitytoday.com

03/10/2022 | Amendments Proposed To Beach Erosion Control District | News Ocean City MD (mdcoastdispatch.com)

 

Beach Erosion Control District:

On the Senate side, Sen. Mary Beth Carozza’s (R-38) beach erosion control district bill, which would allow more construction activity on the lower east side of Ocean City, is working its way through hearings.

Carozza said there’s an “immediate need” for its passage this year to “bring the historic Ocean City Life-Saving Museum into compliance with the federal American Disabilities Act” and to use previously approved funding.

Senate Bill 537, which would allow for the implementation of a shrimp fishery in the state, is also moving. Sonny Gwin, a commercial fisherman from West Ocean City, testified on March 1 in Annapolis and said data collected from allowing participation in the new fishery would be “valuable” for the fishery and for the insight into future stock shifts in other fisheries.

“During current uncertain times with supply chain issues and food shortages, our commercial seafood harvesters consistently provide local, relatively inexpensive, unprocessed food choices,” Carozza added. “But watermen are taking a risk when beginning to engage in a new fishery. They deserve our support in making this pilot program a workable, flexible alternative.”

This story appears in the print version of Ocean City Today on March 11, 2022

Eliminate PFAs

“Strong support, it unanimously passed:” MD bill could help eliminate PFAS out of the environment

MARYLAND– Knocking PFAS Chemicals out of the environment, a health and safety Maryland bill is moving forward to help this come to light.

“Strong support, it unanimously passed the Senate it’s now I believe moving through the House side,” Senator Mary Beth Carozza said.

It’s called the George Walter Taylor Act named after a firefighter who died from cancer linked to PFAS exposure.

“It just goes to show when you learn that something like this toxic chemical can have this type of detrimental effect on our firefighters that you work through it and we ended up passing this ban,” Sen. Carozza said.

The bill would protect Marylander’s from toxic PFAS chemicals by banning the use of fire fighting foam laced with them, as well as carpets and food packaging.

“As far as the packaging, that is a huge issue certainly some companies are starting to make their changes already on their own, for instance McDonald’s is,” Cindy Dillon, the Chair of the Lower Eastern Shore Group of the MD Sierra Club, said.

Health experts warn that these chemicals are everywhere, and if they get in your body, they are there forever impacting us in many ways.

“The biggest ones that everyone thinks of are the cancers that are related to it, I mean there’s a myriad of cancers that can be tied back to it, but also like pregnant woman can have hypertension, low birth weight,” Christopher Truitt, Assistant Chief of EMS at the Salisbury Fire Department, said.

Truitt said the news on banning fire fighting foam is great, especially because their job of taking on those fires is already a dangerous one.

“We use it for any kind of liquid type fires, so gasoline fires, petroleum based fires, things of that nature, and fortunately we don’t run into that a lot,” Truitt said.

But, while we don’t know if this bill will make it to the Governor’s desk yet, some advocates we spoke with are hopeful.

“That’s a huge problem that its already in our environment, but if they we can stop it being introduced continuing to pour into our environment that would be a step in the right direction,” Dillon said.

Christopher Truitt said currently there’s no body on the market that sells PFAS free fire fighting gear. So, they’ll need to look at where they will get gear and equipment from and then they will need to evaluate costs.

 

To see WMDT video of this news update: "Strong support, it unanimously passed:" MD bill could help eliminate PFAS out of the environment - 47abc (wmdt.com)


OC Convention Expansion

 

OCEAN CITY, Md. – Ocean City welcomed Governor Larry Hogan to celebrate the largely anticipated expansion of the Roland E. Powell convention center. A project that’s slated to bring hundreds of jobs to the area. “We’re looking forward to another very strong summer and the convention center is going to be a big part of it,” says city engineer and manager, Terry McGean.

The town of Ocean City is on the road to economic recovery and Mayor Rick Meehan says the 45,000 square foot extension of the convention center provides the space for endless opportunities. “Estimated the expansion to generate $47 to $67 million in new spending and generate $2.5 to $3.5 million in new state tax revenue,” says Mayor Meehan.

Before the expansion, the mayor says the town had to turn down some events due to limited space. However, after presenting the idea of expansion to Governor Hogan, we’re told he wasted no time in helping Ocean City get what they need. “He really expedited and fast-tracked the expansion of the Ocean City convention center so we could have these big conventions come in,” says Senator Mary Beth Carozza. She adds, “So this is a big day that we were actually able to not only to cut the ribbon but to see it in action and to see that the space is already being used.”

The town is projecting that the expansion could bring over 600 jobs to Ocean City. “So it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work and it’s very satisfying to see it, and it’s going to give us not only more space but way more flexibility,” says McGean.

Governor Hogan tells 47 ABC, this expansion can boost the economy, and attract tourism. “There are people lined up to get in and I’m sure that they’re out spending money in ocean city which enables places to hire more to stay open full time all year round,” says Gov. Hogan.

However, we’re told it’s not just about jobs. With a new exhibit hall, bayside gallery, and business center, the possibilities are endless and truly emphasize Governor Hogan’s message that ‘Maryland is open for business.’ “It brings in revenue from the state of Maryland, brings in revenue to the county and the city and it’s like a win, win, win,” says Gov. Hogan.

Town officials also tell us, they’re already seeing new hires and they plan to grow that number with more events and conventions.

 

Click link below for video interviews.

Convention center expands, providing space for endless opportunity and economic recovery - 47abc (wmdt.com)

 


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Mary Beth Carozza for State Senate