WEST OCEAN CITY — Longtime area environmentalist and advocate Bob Abele last week was awarded the Osprey Award by the Maryland Coastal Bays Program for his extensive work over nearly two decades on behalf of the local estuaries and ecosystems.
Abele, who has served on the Maryland Coastal Bays Program in various capacities since its infancy in 1996 before it was recognized as a certified National Estuary Program, was recognized by the MCBP with the Osprey Award during the program’s release of the 2012 report card for the coastal bays at the Ocean City Fishing Center in West Ocean City. Abele joins a small, but distinguished group of former winners of the program’s highest honor including Ilia and Joe Fehrer, Sr., Jeanne Lynch, Carolyn Cummins and the late Tom Patton, all of whom aimed to preserve and conserve the coastal bays in and around the resort area.
Born and raised in upstate New York, Abele from a young age has enjoyed camping, fishing and boating near the Adirondack Mountains. He graduated from Clarkson University and began a 31-year career with DuPont as a mechanical and industrial engineer. Starting in 1987, Abele spent most of his weekends and vacations at a bayside condominium in Ocean City and moved to Ocean Pines for good in 1992. He has been active in the community ever since, having served on the OPA Board from 1996 to 1999.
He began his involvement with the fledgling MCBP in 1996 before it became a recognized National Estuary Program when he was lured into the well-organized but “not yet up the creek” conference in Ocean City concerning Maryland’s often forgotten coastal bays. In June 1996, he was part of a group gathered outside BJ’s South in Ocean City for the MCBP authorization signing by federal, state, Worcester County, Ocean City and Berlin officials, which formed the basis for moving the program forward to become a National Estuary Program.
Abele chaired the Coastal Bays Foundation’s Board of Directors until 2010 and, with other board members, guided the developing MCBP from its infancy. He was also active in the development of the Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan, which identifies specific issues and recommends corrective actions for the long-term sustainability of the coastal bays. He was also a founding member of the Maryland Coastal Bays Fishery Advisory Committee, a diverse group working to focus on issues related to fishing in the coastal bays.