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Salute to the Watermen

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on November 13, 2003:

Senator Dyson To the editor:

They get up before the morning rush hour and head out on our many local waterways in Maryland on a gamble. Many of them do it seven days a week. They don’t wear suits and ties. They wear boots and overalls. They are our watermen and they are invaluable.

It is not easy getting up before the sun rises with the hope that you spend your entire day bringing back enough seafood to make your efforts worth all the trouble it takes. They go out in the wind, rain and cold in sometimes hazardous water conditions. Yet without our watermen, we wouldn’t enjoy the delicacy that Maryland is so famous for including our trademark steamed crabs and rockfish. Sure, other states harvest crabs and striped bass, but everyone knows Maryland serves those up better than anyone.

The Maryland Waterman’s Association, which advocates on behalf of every waterman or woman in Maryland is winding down its 30th year in existence and what an impact they’ve made.

Behind the outstanding stewardship of President Larry Simms and Administrator Betty Duty, the MWA has made a significant contribution to the industry they serve.

Their mission is to educate the general public about the significant issues that face watermen on a daily basis. For years they have fought unnecessary and burdensome regulations that have hindered this extraordinarily honorable profession.

The MWA is an active and important force in Annapolis during the General Assembly Session when bills that affect their industry are being heard. Because they are so well-respected, the MWA, often sways legislation that, if passed, would hinder the already difficult and arduous job that watermen do.

When you enjoy your oyster, rockfish or crab dinners, thank the MWA because they are chiefly responsible for making sure you are eating a safe product.

In fact, Larry Sims, president of the MWA, serves on the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference which is a subcommittee under the Food and Drug Administration.

Through the years, the Maryland Waterman’s Association has been responsible for blocking legislation banning important nets that would hinder the occupation of our watermen such as pound, drift gill, fake and haul seine nets.

The Association also succeeded in preventing the legislature from naming the rockfish a gamefish. This would have been a major blow to the commercial watermen.

Another significant achievement of the MWA was to open county boundary lines up and down the Chesapeake Bay to allow commercial fishermen to move freely to harvest their bounty.

I fully agree with my friend Senator Paul Sarbanes when he commemorated the MWA’s 30th anniversary by reading into the Congressional Record some of the
following: “I have had the opportunity to work closely with the MWA and its members over the years on a number of important issues -- from improving our commercial harbors and historic seaports to restoring oyster reefs in the Chesapeake Bay -- and I have great respect for the men and women who make their living working Maryland’s waters.”

Senator Sarbanes, I couldn’t agree more.

Maryland Senator Roy Dyson

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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