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May 17, 2011

Face lift for one fisheries group, not the other

Let's say you have a 15-member state board, all but three members are white men and terms are expiring for six members. What do you do?

Reappoint the men!

The fact is there will be no new faces this summer on the Sport Fish Advisory Commission, despite the fact that the group has but one black, one Hispanic and one woman serving. Let's hear it for diversity and fresh ideas!

On the other hand, the 15-member Tidal Fish Advisory Commission is likely to see a 50-percent turnover. Why? To get more diversity.

Go figure.

Because of foot-dragging in the appointments office of the governor, this guy and the last one, the staggered term limits of SFAC members got unstaggered. Then the General Assembly, at the request of the Department of Natural Resources, voted last year to add three members to the board that advises Secretary John Griffin on recreational fishing issues.

To get things back on track, DNR is retaining all SFAC members whose terms were set to expire next month until June 30, 2015: Larry Coburn, representing the tackle shop industry; Roger Trageser of the Maryland Bass Federation; Herb Smith, representing central and western Maryland interests; Val Lynch, representing coastal fisheries; Ray Morgan, western Maryland representative; and Brandon White, webmaster for Tidalfish.com.

Those men were appointed in 2009, halfway through a four-year term, because the appointments office was too busy deciding other political payoffs and who would carry the nuclear football for Martin O'Malley.

Six other men (Ahhh, men. How would we fill commissions without them?) will stay on SFAC until June 30, 2013: Bill Goldsborough, Chesapeake Bay Foundation; Dave Sikorski, Coastal Conservation Association Maryland; James Wommack, Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association; Ed O'Brien, Maryland Charter Boat Association; Jim Gracie, Mid-Atlantic Trout Unlimited; and Bill Windley, MSSA.

Like, how do you get appointed to this thing if you don't belong to the leadership of some club or group? Are there no regular anglers available?

Three members appointed this year will serve until June 30, 2015: Greg Jetton, Maryland Charter Boat Association; Dave Smith, MSSA; and (believe it or not) Carol Stevenson, Chesapeake Women's Angler's Association.

I have nothing against these guys. Some of them are really terrific. But really, what has SFAC done for recreational anglers lately?

The two fastest growing segments of the recreational fishing community are women and Hispanics. Local tackle shop owners say if they didn't have new Hispanic customers they wouldn't have squat.

So where's the love and recognition?

On the other hand, the TFAC--the group that advises Griffin on things commercial--will look a lot different. Six members will be replaced at the end of their two-year term on June 30: Jack Brooks, seafood processor; Russell Dukes, waterman; Andrea Jacquette, seafood retailer; Greg Price, waterman; and John Van Alstine, waterman and aquaculture representative.

Six other members will have their terms extended until June 30, 2013: Larry Simns, president of the Maryland Watermen's Association; Brian Keehn, Maryland Charter Boat Association; Richard Young, crabber; James Gross, waterman; Bill Goldsborough, CBF; Mike Benjamin, waterman; Stephen Gordon, coastal bays aquaculture guy.

Three members appointed this year will serve until June 30, 2013: Gibby Dean, president of the Chesapeake Bay Commercial Fisherman's Association; Moochie Gilmer, waterman; and Billy Rice, waterman.

The new TFAC is expected to include members from Harford, Talbot, Charles, Caroline, Somerset and Wicomico counties--jurisdictions not represented now.

The SFAC and TFAC will meet jointly at 6 p.m., at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Same old, same old.

Posted by Candus Thomson at 7:00 AM | | Comments (5)
        

Comments

Candy, .

As you know I am no defender of the actions of the DNR and their treatment of this Commission. To many times the department gives no respect to the members of the SFAC

However, in all fairness to the DNR and the SFAC many efforts have been made to get women to join this Commission. I have personal knowledge that women have been recruited only to turn down an offer to join the commission. I would hope that some would step forward. Maybe you could reccomend a few that would accept the appointment.


As anyone knows, there is nothing I love more than a nice statistic. So I'll stick my neck out the explain why diversity in oversight boards and government positions is a really good idea.

The state of Maryland according to the 2009 Census is 57% white, 30% black, 7% Latino and 5% Asian, and each racial group is made up almost equally of men and women. All of these groups are represented in our state legislature who decide budget appropriations. If the Sport Fishery Advisory Committee is primarily made up of white males then they most likely will only interact with white males which means they only build consensus and support with white males. The rest of the elected officials will have almost not interest or interaction with the interests of the Sport Fisheries. They won't care, and, to be blunt, neither do I.

If one is left wondering why the DNR didn't get its additional LEO personnel, one only needs to look to this same challenge. White men patrolling the bay to make sure other white men obey the law. I don't see how this would be a hot button issue for an elected black female from PG County.

Cham, I don't if or where you fish but where I go it's always a pretty even mix of whites,blacks,latino and asian males AND females. So maybe an elected black female from PG county should care

Like Stephen Colbert, I am racially colorblind so I don't see race.

I have been told I am a white male but cannot confirm this fact through my own observations.

I do occassionally attend the TFAC and SFAC meetings.

If members from the groups you mentioned are interested in a commission appointment, it would be wise for them to express this interest by participating in the meetings as a member of the public (where they are free to voice their public comment). Even though I am racially colorblind, I do not recall anyone from these groups in attendance at the recent meetings. I have not observed their public comments or witnessed their desire for a commision appointment.

They should not expect to receive an appointment, just because they are "different". They need to get involved, show their faces, get to know the current commissioners, and prove themselves as an intelligent, worthwhile, and appropriate candidate. Commission appointments are earned.

Speaking of racial colorblindness, it is my understanding that the State Governement must have the same observational defect.

The real issue is the status of the current commissioner members, some of which are no longer actively involved with the groups they represent. Perhaps a little investigative reporting is appropriate at this time.

I am dissapointed that the race/sex cards were unnecessarily played here. It is this type of alarmist "reporting" that fuels ethno-racism and sexism, which may divide us humans further.

Anonymous:
I didn't raise the race/gender card, the state did.
The document the governor's appointments office --Democrat and Republican--works from includes each candidate's gender and race.
Thus, we know that Jim Gracie is labeled the Hispanic member of SFAC, JR Gross is labeled the African-American member of TFAC and Carol Stevenson is the woman on SFAC.
Further, DNR last year asked the General Assembly to increase the membership of both commissions as a way to increase diversity.
That, obviously, has not happened to a great degree so far and won't for several more years unless someone resigns and a slot opens up.
The problem with our sport/hobby/special interest is that the fishing community is largely insular. Fewer and fewer people are being invited to join the discussion, to go fishing. As a result, we talk to ourselves.
Until we all figure out how to enlist new anglers, we are doomed to being part of an ever-decreasing, homogenized community.
There's no fun or future in that.
You are right about members no longer representing the groups they were appointed to represent. State officials believe one SFAC member doesn't live in Maryland, but since the guidelines don't say you have to be a resident, there's nothing DNR can do about it.
I'd like to hear from anglers on how to increase our numbers.
Best,
Candy

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About Candus Thomson
In a world of paper vs. plastic and candy mint vs. breath mint, my early memories involved a debate about the merits of freshwater vs. saltwater.

On the one hand, a great uncle’s fishing cabin on the Susquehanna River beckoned, but so did family gatherings on the Jersey Shore.

The correct answer, thankfully, was, “both.”

As The Sun’s outdoors writer for more than a decade, I’ve fished across Maryland in one day, hiked the width of the state in one hour, camped overnight in the median of I-95 to experience the wildlife between the fast lanes and chased mountain bikers in a 24-hour marathon race.

Those are some of the highlights. I’ve also fallen in a raging Gunpowder River during a trout survey (photo available upon request), had a shark spill its guts on my clothes and been stuck in a sub-freezing Vermont wilderness with men armed with flintlocks and hatchets, shuffling along on ancient wooden snowshoes.

And, in my travels I’ve met lots of you, who share a love of the outdoors and the good times and mishaps that go along with it.
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