Refresh my memory; were you appointed to Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission years ago ? If so, while you don't serve there now how many years did you serve ?
You are correct. I was appointed to the SFAC and served I believe 4.5 years. I fought hard and actually wanted to get something done. Then one day I realized I was just one vote and a pawn in the game. AND that the only way you really are going to move the needle is by having more than one vote.
People back then thought that I was against commercial fishing, heck at one point the recreational fishermen thought I was against rec fishing.
Truth, which holds to this day, is I'm pro fish. I'm willing to go against my own short term self interest (rec angler) to have fish for the future.
Here's the thing...
I used to meet with Larry Simms the head of the MD Watermen's Association on a regular basis. A lot of the time we met for lunch in Rockhall. I forget the name of the place we had lunch, but it was right there on the right hand side of the road we you drive into town. Might have been Fords Seafood, I can't remember. At times we met in Easton. He sometimes would bring another watermen to the meeting. I always went alone.
We actually agreed on a lot of fronts. We did disagree also and sometimes we even got into some debates that delayed our regular meetings a month or too to let things cool down because I think we both knew we might say something that we shouldn't say to one another.
Here's what he told me one day that I'll never forget and changed the whole game for me.
He said, "Brandon, do you want to know how we get our way more often then the recs? Even when it doesn't make complete sense for the fishery?"
You can imagine my anticipation. I said, "Yea I do!"
He said," We donate to all the politicians on a regular basis. It's not always a lot, maybe a few hundred dollars. But, we do it on a consistent basis. That's how it works. You may not like to hear that, but it's the truth."
I thought about that for a while. Then I even tried to get the "conservation" organizations to take this tactic. The pushback I got was essentially, it shouldn't work that way. We're not playing that game. And right there is when I realized the recs and conservation orgs would lose and keep losing. And as that happened the fishing would get worse, heck the whole Bay would get worse.
You may not like what you just heard there and you might not even agree. But, I'm a person who just wants to know what the game is so I can win.
In these sorts of situations you have a choice
1) You can try and change the game.
2) You can find out what the game is and build a strategy to win.
They are VERY different choices. In this fight, I choose #2.
There were a few other things I saw happened behind closed doors that I also didn't agree with. There was a coverup of money used from one fisheries pool of money that was not allowed to be used for another but was, it was covered up. I didn't agree nor want to be a part of that sort of stuff.
I'll mention one other VERY impactful thing that caused me to leave the SPAC.
I used to play poker now and again with some fisheries biologists who I'm friends with. One night after some beers one of them as an aside said to me,
"Brandon, do you want to know why you're never going to get the commercial netting reduced." Of course I wanted to know.
He said, because if that happened people in MD DNR would lose their job. A lot of people job is to monitor and manage that fishery.
That simple. J o b s.
Of what the irony, a service that is supposed to manage fisheries and do the right thing for them has humans involved. And humans always want to take care of their basic needs like money, food and shelter before moving up the hierarchy of needs to do things that are bigger then themselves.
Soooo with all that data I realized I was a pawn in this game. And...I hate losing more than I want to win.
I decided to take a different tract. So far it seems to be a better plan with less BS and clear path to how to win.
So, there you have it. It's not the whole story, but it's some main highlights since you asked.
Edited for typos. Hands are a little cold this morning.