Today, Senator Bailey presented more bills to address natural resources issues in our state. In addition to his bill about conflict resolution for shoreline property owners and water column aquaculture lease applicants as well as the study on harvest data for the Recreational Striped Bass Fishery, the Senator had two more pieces of legislation on laws governing Maryland’s waterways.
The first bill, Senate Bill 510 – Natural Resources – Commercial Fishing – Use of Haul Seines, authorizes a person to empty a haul seine during the period from 12:01 a.m. on Saturday until sunrise on the following Monday if that haul seine was fished on a Friday. Current Maryland law prohibits fishing with a haul seine between 12:01 a.m. on Saturday until sunrise on Monday in the tidal waters of the state. However, there has been an issue recently with commercial fishermen who exercise their right under state law to fish with a haul seine on a Friday and who are unable to empty their nets before midnight on Saturday. Senate Bill 510 does not alter the prohibition on fishing with a haul seine on the weekends. It only ensures that fish that have been legally caught can be removed from the net and ensures that commercial harvesters are not penalized for catching a large number of fish on a Friday.
The second piece of legislation Senator Bailey introduced today was Senate Joint Resolution 4 – Recognition of Maryland License Suspensions and Revocations by the Potomac River Fisheries Commission. If enacted, this resolution requests that the Potomac River Fisheries Commission take action, consistent with the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, to prohibit a person from participating in a fishery under the Commission’s jurisdiction if the person’s license to catch, sell, buy, process, transport, export, or otherwise deal in fish in Maryland has been suspended or revoked.
Across our country, the Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact (IWVC) is currently composed of 47 member states. The IWVC also includes a reciprocal recognition of license privilege suspension by member states. Wildlife law violators are held accountable due to the fact that their illegal activities in one state can affect their privileges in all participating states. The Potomac River Fisheries Commission (PRFC) is not part of this compact. Under the current rules established by the PRFC, a person who has had their fishing license suspended or revoked in Maryland does not lose their right to fish in the Potomac River. Since the Potomac River is governed by the Commission under the terms of an interstate compact, the Maryland General Assembly does not have the authority to pass a law to stop this from occurring. Therefore, this resolution requests that the Commission use their powers to ensure that individuals who have had their license to catch, sell, buy, process, transport, export, or otherwise deal in fish in Maryland suspended or revoked to also lose their right to fish in the Potomac River.
The Senator firmly believes that the General Assembly should take some action in this legislative session to make it clear to the Potomac River Fisheries Commission that we believe people who have had their fishing licenses suspended or revoked in Maryland should also lose their ability to fish in the Potomac River.