Renewed Fishing Focus Eyed

OCEAN CITY – The local fishing industry needs to be promoted to visitors, according to the Ocean City Economic Development Committee (EDC), which met Wednesday morning for breakfast at the Ocean City Convention Center.

“The fishing industry is a very, very important part of economic development,” said Debbie Travers, assistant executive director of the Ocean City Tourism department. “I think it’s sort of a hidden gem.”

EDC Chair Dr. Lenny Berger, who has brought this subject at recent meetings, said, “The fishing industry is very strong. The tournaments that have occurred in Ocean City have been very well attended. We should all be talking about this. We should all be prioritizing this.”

Travers, who sits on Governor Martin O’Malley’s task force on boating, reported that the state is planning to make significant changes in recognizing water recreation, including promoting fishing through the state website.

“We got started as a fishing village. It’s important to remember that,” Travers said.

Ocean City can also rely on its “drive to” location for more tourism, she said, an aspect of the resort that will be emphasized in advertising.

“It’s affordable. You can drive here,” Travers said.

“You’ve got to get the word out,” said Berger. “This is a really great market for Ocean City because people aren’t traveling a long distance.”

It was pointed out Harbor Day will be held on Oct. 11, dockside at the West Ocean City commercial harbor and will promote both heritage tourism and fishing.

“It’s going to be a fantastic event and it’s free,” said Susan Jones, executive director of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association (OCHMRA).

The heritage tourism event will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude with the Blessing of the Fleet between 4 and 5 p.m.

Harbor Day will focus on commercial and sport fishing in the Ocean City area, local seafood processing businesses, aquaculture, and sea safety. Touch tanks and a fish display will acquaint visitors with the denizens of the deep.  Knot tying and line tossing competitions will also be held.

Harbor Day will also feature fish cleaning, net mending, and marlin rigging demonstrations, as well as maritime storytelling, games and live music.

Buses will run from the Ocean City Park and Ride to the West Ocean City harbor the day of the event.