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It costs the state of Maryland more to administer the commercial fishery than is returned in license fees and authorization expenses. Nonetheless, the Sport Fish Advisory Commission has endorsed a plan for the General Assembly to consider allowing the Maryland commercial fishing industry to pay only part of its costs. The remainder would be made up of money from general funds or program cuts.

The license fees paid by Maryland's recreational fishermen do cover all the expenses to the state to manage the recreational fishery; but that's not the case with the commercial segment. It actually costs the state, specifically the Department of Natural Resources, significantly more to administer the commercial fishery than is collected in commercial license fees.

The Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland (CCAMD) thinks that's just plain wrong and doesn't want to see money that should rightly go to programs that impact recreational fisheries, the greater community or conservation programs cut because the commercial industry has refused to pay the full share of what it costs the state to maintain a commercial fishery.

CCAMD believes that additional fee increases for commercial, for-profit fisheries is the only appropriate way to achieve cost recovery.

If this isn't done, then CCAMD endorses an elimination of high cost-consuming commercial harvest seasons such as gill netting for striped bass. In a letter sent Nov. 9 to the Sport Fish Advisory Commission, CCAMD called for the commercial industry to be held accountable for the full cost of managing its fishery including the enforcement costs associated with ensuring compliance with state laws and regulations.

CCAMD also said any shortfall should be addressed by either cuts in programs for the commercial sector, higher fees for commercial fishing or a combination of both. General funds must not be shifted or wrongly allocated to make up for the commercial industry's refusal to cover the cost of managing its own fishery. Conservation and water quality programs that benefit all of Maryland's citizens must not be cut to cover the commercial industry's shortfall.

As things stand right now, it will be up to the politicians in the General Assembly to decide during their next legislative session.

Superstorm boat damage

According to figures compiled by the Boat Owner's Association of the United States (BoatUS), over 65,000 recreational boats were damaged or lost as a result of Superstorm Sandy. The Outdoor Wire is reporting dollar damage to all these recreational boats at $650 million. That makes this one storm the direct cause of the single largest boating industry loss since they started keeping records back in 1966.

BoatUS says most of the damaged boats were berthed in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut but much more of the Atlantic seaboard had some damage and the effects of Sandy were felt as far inland as the Great Lakes.

Since the storm passed, scores of boat clubs and yards have been actively recovering customer's vessels and getting them back on blocks to undergo damage assessments or putting them safely back into slips. The greater problem comes up when the boating facilities themselves have sustained significant damage. This has happened mainly on the New Jersey coast, Staten Island and western Long Island.

BoatUS estimates over 32,000 boats were damaged in New York, 25,000 in Jew Jersey and 2,500 more in Connecticut. Another 6,000 vessels in various other states also will need repairs after this huge storm.

During the 2005 storm season, Hurricane Wilma and Katrina did a combined $700 million in boat related damage.

Early investigations from Superstorm Sandy's devastation seems indicate the boats tied up to floating docks with tall pilings had the best chance to survive the storm.

Safe hunt

Modern firearm season for deer opens Saturday, Nov. 24.

Here's a thought to take into the woods: “If it's a safe hunt -- it's a successful hunt.”

Holiday shopping

My wife and I were shopping for some household items at Walmart a few days before Halloween, and while I was wandering around the back of the store, I saw several artificial Christmas trees decked out already in lights and holiday decorations.

I'm sorry if this offends anyone, but I found that truly disturbing.

Seeing retail stores rush into the Christmas season every year doesn't put me in a festive mood.

In fact, it has just the opposite effect.

Keeping that in mind, I received a press release from Bass Pro Shops this past week with information about how their retail stores will be open on Thanksgiving Day.

I see Thanksgiving as a wonderful time for families to be together. Play a little touch football in the front yard, sit around and exchange family news, look at old photos, eat a grand meal together, discuss Opening Day, maybe watch a little football together on TV.

That's my idea of a happy Thanksgiving. It doesn't include doing any of my Christmas shopping early.

Now granted, going to a place like Bass Pro Shops up in Hanover, near Baltimore, or their newer store down in Ashland, near Richmond, is a lot like going to an outdoor amusement park with all kinds of activities going on other than looking for a size 2X in camo tee shirts.

Yes, it's often a lot more than just shopping and I realize that; but I also really do believe their employees deserve a day like Thanksgiving to enjoy their own families, too. They ought to close the stores.

There are three big outdoor retailers in America: Bass Pro Shops, Cabela's and Gander Mountain. The nearest Cabela's store to us is way up in Hamburg, Pennsylvania, fairly close to Harrisburg. Gander Mountain has retail outlets down in Fredericksburg and over in Salisbury.

Only Cabela's retail stores will be closed on Thanksgiving.

If you'd like to order any outdoor merchandise by phone, that Cabela's toll-free number is 800-237-4444.

zbasser@aol.com