The Magothy River Association (MRA) stands with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in its strong opposition to House Bill 1218 (HB1218) for the same reasons that we opposed it last year — haul seining would be a disaster for the Magothy River, especially for the yellow perch population, which MRA is working hard to restore.
While the House Environment & Transportation Committee has only a single member from Anne Arundel County, this bill seriously impacts the use of many waterways in our county. The waterways on the western shore of the bay are already under serious stress from the degradations to water quality and aquatic health that result from overdevelopment in their watersheds.
The Magothy River, a river that would be severely impacted by the commercial haul seine fishing allowed in HB1218, is already in such degraded condition from development and stormwater issues that we are warned not to enter the water within 48 hours after a rainstorm. To further reduce the recreational use of the Magothy by allowing expanded haul seine fishing is outrageous and a direct reduction in our quality of life in Anne Arundel County.
Pollution and sediment runoff in the Magothy River watershed have already smothered beds of essential subaquatic vegetation (SAV), and a haul seine net floating even 15 inches above the bottom will still cause untold further damage to the remaining fragile SAV beds.
The Magothy River Association has worked for many years to re-establish oyster beds on reef balls in the river. Oyster spat cannot survive in water clouded with additional sediment from large haul seines accidently dropping onto the bottom. Haul seines capture huge volumes of fish with each use. While they are targeting gizzard shad, carp and catfish, their extreme length of up to 1800 feet, over one-fourth of a mile of net 15 feet high, capture every fish in its path as the net is swung around the stake. This "vacuum cleaner" approach to fishing captures every fish within a quarter mile. These commercial net systems will devastate existing rockfish, white perch and yellow perch populations and reduce the recreational value of the Magothy River. The fish that will be caught by haul seines are also very important to the ecosystem of our river. Haul seining would take place in late winter and early spring when many fish are in large schools during their spawning runs. Catching schools of fish that are ready to spawn is extremely detrimental to a sustainable fishery.
Commercial fishermen do not have a "right" to destroy the rivers and fisheries. These are public waters, and as such, should be protected!
This bill is a disaster for the extensive work that has been done by hundreds of volunteers for more than 70 years by the MRA to try to restore the Magothy River. The citizens of Anne Arundel County deserve better than turning our precious rivers over to commercial greed.
Thank you for voting no on HB1218.
Secretary, Magothy River Association
Severna Park resident
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