OCEAN CITY — Calling a potential designation of the offshore Baltimore Canyon as the nation’s first Urban National Marine Sanctuary potentially “devastating” to the multi-million dollar fishing industry, resort officials this week agreed to send a letter of opposition to state and federal representatives.
In October, National Aquarium officials announced they were seeking an Urban National Marine Sanctuary designation for the Baltimore Canyon, a vast 28-mile long and five-mile wide submarine canyon off the coast of Ocean City that lies at the center of the resort’s multi-million dollar fishing industry. According to the National Aquarium’s petition drive, a designation of the nation’s first Urban National Marine Sanctuary for the Baltimore Canyon “presents a unique opportunity to connect an urban population to the ecological treasure using cutting edge deep sea exploration technology.”
The National Aquarium’s announcement in October met with an immediate knee-jerk reaction from the resort’s area’s multi-million fishing industry, whose representatives fear a sanctuary designation would ultimately limit, restrict or perhaps prohibit recreational and commercial fishing in the canyon. During a meeting at the Ocean City Marlin Club late last month, aquarium officials assured fishing industry leaders the intent of the designation was not to impact fishing in the Baltimore Canyon, but could offer no assurances about potential changes in the uses allowed in the future.