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Fish Fight

Sporting Life columnist Dennis Doyle wrote last week that the newly elected president of the Maryland Watermen’s Association, Robert T. Brown Sr. of St. Mary’s County, was apprehended by Natural Resources Police illegally setting nets off of Chapel Point State Park.
    Those were fighting words to Mick Blackistone, executive director of the Association.

    The Maryland Watermen’s Association and members are upset and disappointed about the brief and inaccurate statements made by columnist Dennis Doyle in April 4’s Bay Weekly regarding our new president Robert T. Brown Sr.
    Let me set the record straight. Capt. Brown was haul seining off the beach on public land, not private, as Doyle wrote. He and four or five other watermen have worked the same area for over 15 years, often coming in contact with the Natural Resources Police with no problems. Recently, however, an officer gave Brown a citation because he didn’t have written permission to fish there.
    He was breaking an old colonial British law, still on the books at the Department of Natural Resources. He was not “apprehended” as Doyle wrote. The Association is working with the Department to abolish old and unenforceable fishing regulations.

    I judged the incident proper and newsworthy since, I believe, Capt. Brown was at the time of the violation acting head of the MWA and likely to be elected president. He was certainly aware of that law (or should have been), and it is troubling that he disregarded it in light of his position.
    Brown was using a haul seine off the shores of Chapel Point State Park. According to Southern District Lieutenant of Police Shawn Garren, that violation is enforced, though infrequently encountered, and is usually initiated by complaint.
    This incident did indeed begin with a complaint by recreational anglers the previous evening about untended commercial equipment denying them access to park fishing waters. When two officers investigated the next morning they encountered Brown haul seining and issued him a citation for the violation.

    The Maryland Park Service this week issued a letter of permission allowing Capt. Brown to fish Chapel Point State Park — but not to interfere with recreational anglers.