The Maryland Department of Natural Resources plans to raise the cost of most commercial fishing and crabbing licenses to offset money spent by the state for fisheries management and law enforcement.
For watermen, especially ones who work on the water as a part-time job, the higher fees add to the escalating cost of bait, fuel and equipment.
But the increases are needed to maintain the level of management and to keep fisheries open, according to two statewide watermen’s associations that helped develop the new price structure with DNR officials.
“We have to increase all those licenses fees because they haven’t been increased for a number of years,” Mick Blackistone, executive director of the Maryland Watermen’s Association, said.
The Chesapeake Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Association, which splintered from the other state association several years ago, also helped draft the new price structure.
Gina Hunt, deputy director of DNR fishery service, said most or all of the fees associated with commercial licenses had not changed since 1994. “We didn’t have the dollars to continue to provide the services at the level we had been providing” to commercial fisheries, Hunt said.
DNR officials presented scenarios to the watermen groups of reduced services and limiting fisheries to the watermen groups. The associations in turn recognized the need for changes.
“The watermen prepared those fees themselves,” Hunt said, to determine how much licenses and fees needed to be raised to bring in $1.6 million.