Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

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Effective with the turn of the calendar to January, saltwater recreational fishermen must enroll in the Marine Recreational Information Program, a national registry designed to enhance monitoring efforts for saltwater fish. While some view this as an unnecessary bureaucratic grab from federal officials that will eventually carry a fee to register (it’s free in 2010), I think this is a good idea, so long as its designated goals are carried out as planned. As with anything new, time will tell whether the creation of this database is a worthwhile initiative or just a costly hassle.

However, ask any fisherman what’s the most frustrating issue in the industry these days, and most will point to regulations. Some species are facing unnecessary shutdowns or severe restrictions, while others go uninhibited when they should be. This registry will hopefully address these concerns in time. The critical issue here is inaccurate data is consistently used by federal and state officials to substantiate the imposition of strict regulations, in some cases shutting down entire areas to fishing. In my mind, anything aimed at improving the accuracy of these figures is a good thing. It’s frustrating to watch charter boats annually struggle because data is either being misinterpreted or inaccurate altogether. No better example is the flounder restrictions imposed last summer. Erroneous data was compiled, showing impossible catch counts, and eventually led to the flounder season being unnecessarily shortened, impacting the livelihoods of many. I say this registry is worth a shot if it can prevent these types of mistakes in the future.

A study of compensation of elected officials in the Maryland General Assembly was recently conducted and calls for significant raises for legislators.

Based on a compensation comparison to other states, the General Assembly Compensation Commission is going to suggest that the governor receive a $10,000 raise, from $150,000, in a couple years, along with the lieutenant governor, comptroller and other high-ranking officials, and potentially that all members of the House of Delegates and Senators also receive a raise of some sort. Currently, starting pay for all Delegates and Senators is about $43,000. The raises were suggested to take effect in a couple years, so long as the jobless rate drops.

The good news here is the governor, speaker of the House and Senate president have all said publicly they would not accept any kind of boost in compensation when they are debating cutting services and slashing spending to make up for a $1 billion budget shortfall. That’s a relief to hear, and it would be wise for all legislators to reject this study, which by law has to become a resolution and formally voted on. It would be inappropriate to waste any time debating this issue, and I question how much money it cost the state to conduct this examination in the first place. The timing stinks, considering the hurting economy.

Although it prefers not to comment because it’s too early in the process, the Ocean City Police Department wants to see improperly disposing of dead bodies made illegal in the resort. This seems logical to me, and City Solicitor Guy Ayres will be drafting an ordinance on the matter in the near future. A similar piece of legislation has been pre-filed in Annapolis by a group of delegates. It would make it a misdemeanor, subject to one year in prison or a fine not exceeding $5,000 or both, to dispose of or bury a human body except in a “family burial plot or other area allowed in local ordinance; a crematory; a cemetery; or a funeral establishment.” Until that bizarre case in 2007 when multiple fetuses were found in an Ocean City home, I had no idea this was not a law already. It seems about time to me.

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