Volume 15, Issue 5 ~ February 1 - February 7, 2007

Way Downstream

In Anne Arundel County, John Leopold made history as the first county executive in Maryland — and third in the country — to sign the U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement. He joins 400 mayors from all 50 states, including Annapolis Mayor Ellen Moyer, former Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley and mayors from Chevy Chase, College Park, Gaithersburg, Mount Rainier, Sykesville and Takoma Park. The agreement pledges towns or counties to meet or beat the rules in the 2005 Kyoto Protocol, which sets limits to reduce global warming emissions by seven percent below 1990 levels by 2012 …

In Calvert County, a batch of those Asian ariakensis oysters was served up at a Savor the Chesapeake Seafood and Science dinner this week in Solomons, one of three such gatherings brought to us each winter by Chesapeake Biological Laboratory and Maryland Sea Grant College. Yes, that ariakensis, the oyster largely discredited in Maryland after the National Academies of Science and others recommended more study before introducing them in Chesapeake Bay.

These Chinese oysters were farm-raised, then served raw, baked, fried and chopped into dip and stuffing, alongside our native virginicas in a taste test. Despite rejection in Maryland, Virginia seafood interests still see the Asian oyster as the answer to the Bay’s oyster woes.

“This is an education program, not a political program,” said Jacqueline Takacs, Sea Grant College marine specialist, of Ariakensis on the program menu at Holiday Inn. The ariakensis, which grow bigger and faster in thinner shells, stacked up well in the taste test, by the way. You can taste for yourself at dinners in February and March …

In Maryland, fishermen’s hopes for a third blow-out spring trophy rockfish season have been dashed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

The year’s earliest season is a favorite as big fish — hence trophy —return from the ocean to spawn in Chesapeake Bay. The season, timed after spawning, runs mid-April through May.

Because mature fish are so valuable to the species’ future, Maryland’s Bay fishery is regulated by the Commission, representing coastal states from Maine to North Carolina. The last two years, Maryland’s spring quota was about 60,000 fish. But each season, far more fish were caught.

When a state exceeds its quota, it pays the following year.

In 2005, Maryland overcaught its quota by 50 percent. In 2006, the Commission raised the minimum size keepable fish five inches to 33 inches. Even so, again in ‘06, about 50 percent more fish than allowed were caught.

This year, Maryland Department of Natural Resources hoped to avoid penalty by getting the quota system dropped. But in a 7-to-6 vote, the Commission rejected DNR’s plan.

Next, the Commission halved Maryland’s ’07 quota to 30,000 fish.

Now DNR must devise fishing regulations to keep Maryland fishermen with that quota. The plan could shorten the trophy season, raise legal minimums even higher — or both. With higher legal minimums, fishermen would be obliged to put back most of the rockfish they catch.

With season opening only 11 weeks away, charter skippers fear lost business — and Bay fishermen have no inkling what lies ahead.

Our Creature Feature comes from Washington state, where creature-friendly legislation would permit dogs to enter bars with their people. “You can take dogs into hotels. My God, some people are carrying dogs in their purses. Why can’t we have them in the bars?” state Sen. Ken Jacobson, a Democrat, said in an interview with the Associated Press.

We’re thinking of sending Jacobsen a recent report from Amsterdam, where a pet shop owner has engineered the brewing of a new beer for dogs. The store owner, Terrie Berenden, observed that after going hunting with her Weimeraners, “we sit on the veranda and drink a beer. So we thought, my dog also has earned it.”

Kwispelbier, billed as “a beer for your best friend,” went on sale in the Netherlands this month. By the way, it’s non-alcoholic.

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.