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From the County Times (March 3)
http://countytimes.somd.com/archive/2011/03-mar/2011-03-03.pdf

Some Southern Maryland watermen are opposing
a project that would bring oyster aquaculture
to the waters off Myrtle Point, saying that both the
oyster floats and underwater cages upon which larval
oysters would be placed to grow would take away
valuable crabbing areas.
Tommy Zinn, president of the Calvert County
Watermen's Association, which claims membership
from both St. Mary's and Calvert counties, stated in
a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers and the state
Board of Public Works that the proposal would take
away one of the few legal methods left to watermen
and recreational crabbers in the waters of the Patuxent
River near Mill Creek.
"Trotlines are one of the few means by which
commercial watermen can legally harvest crabs in
the Patuxent River tributary; crab pots are not permitted,"
Zinn wrote. "The cages and floats described
in the proposal would stop watermen from using trotlines
in these protected waters."
Zinn claimed in his letter that trotlines would
become entangled with tackle used for the aquaculture
project proposed in public waters.
"The inability to trotline in these areas will
adversely affect the personal income of watermen,"
Zinn stated.
According to project maps from the corps of
engineers, the project consists of three separate areas
where the oyster seed would grow: two of them
would be in Mill Creek, one close to the Patuxent
River with the other close to Sam Abell Cove. The
third site would be placed right off the shoreline of
Myrtle Point Park in the Patuxent River.
In total, the oyster growing areas encompass
about 11 acres of either river bottom or surface water.
The lead on the project is Hollywood resident
Raymond Combs, Sr. who has, with his family,
sought for years to put an oyster aquaculture project
in local waters.
The first growth area is planned for floating
aquaculture of oyster seed, project documents state,
with a minimum of 20 feet between each row tied
together and anchored by ground tackle.
The other sites would be for growing more mature
oysters below the river surface, about one foot
from the actual bottom tethered by line and more
ground tackle, documents read.
Combs denied that his project, which keeps with
the state's push for more aquaculture, would interfere
with crabbing in the waters in and around Myrtle
Point, but a state official with the Maryland Department
of Agriculture disagreed.
"It [trotlines] could get tangled in the cages," said
Karl Roscher, aquaculture coordinator. "It wouldn't
be practical to set a trotline underneath floats."
Combs said that he has offered to address the
watermen's group's concerns, but only now are they
trying to derail the project when it seems ready for
approval.
 

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Scott,

Thanks for posting!

So the the Watermen's association is concerned that closing off an area of 11 acres in the Pax would have more than a negligible impact on commercial trotliners ability to crab in the river, resulting in an economic impact to affected crabbers? Really!?!?!?

An acre is 43,560 square feet, which is an area roughly 150 ft wide by 300 ft long (150X300=45,000 sq ft)--the size of a football field without the end zones (50X100 yards=150X300 ft). If the 11 acre area were linear, it could be roughly 150 ft wide by 3,300 ft long.

If the 11 acre area were 200 ft wide, it would be 2,396 ft long. Under the MD crabbing regs that means if the trotline were centered in the area 200 ft wide, a SINGLE 2200 ft comm trotline could legally "take up" the entire 11 acres, because no one is legally allowed to crab within 100 ft of a trotline--that would be 100 ft out from the ends and along the length of the line.

We are talking about the area "fished" by a single comm trotline within the Pax river!
 

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Here is the Combs Public Notice.

Note that only 3.3 acres is planned for floats- the rest would have 1' tall cages on long lines. A person could legally lay a trotline across the cages as long as they don't interfere with the growing oysters and provided the leaseholder isn't actively working on the lease at that moment.
 

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It seems like MD watermen are digging themselves a big hole through activity and leadership.............Gary
 

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Watermen upset ? Say it isn't so. Sometimes you have to shake your head at whats going on with these guys. They didn't get upset enough to turn in poachers. Guess we'll have to wait and see who wins out with this battle. Crabs have started coming back after DNR finally got it halfway right. Oysters coming back in a big way would be great to see. Water quality improving too would help out.
 
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