From: Mathew M. Sarro
Five years ago, in 1985, the population of the striped bass (commonly referred to as the rockfish) reached a record low in the Chesapeake Bay. This fish, due to overfishing and pollution, declined in numbers so drastically from 1970 through 1985 that the state had no choice but to issue a moratorium banning the catching of all rockfish inMaryland.
This fish that was once representative of the abundanceof wildlife in Maryland was banned because of record low netting numbers (the number of fish caught in each commercial fishing net). In 1985, the netting number was two fish per net. Fifteen years prior, in1970, the number was over 30 fish per net.
These numbers are scary, and to the dismay of environmentalists and all others concerned with the future of the rockfish, the moratorium was lifted and the fishing season began again in 1990.
One major concern of reopening thefish to commercial fishermen is that the ever-popular drift nets used to catch rockfish needlessly kill fish. The nets are designed to let the smaller fish out, but they don't always work this well. As a result, many undersized rockfish as well as females die from being trapped in nets for an extended period of time.
Earth First! is tryingto get the fishermen to raise their nets at night to prevent this catastrophe, but even that may not save the rockfish.
Another reasonto support the closing of the rockfish season is the overfishing andpollution. Pollution is of less concern because the Department of Natural Resources reported that the level of toxins in the water is notyet high enough to cause concern for the larvae of the rockfish.
The overfishing, though, is of great concern and for good reason. First and foremost, the number of rockfish is still not high enough to withstand commercial fishing for any duration. It is quite evident that if we allow commercial fishing, the rockfish population will most likely diminish to numbers even lower than in 1985.
One last argument for the banning of rockfish is that if the fish is banned but the demand is still existent, then the push for aquaculture could lead tomore successful methods of raising the fish. Unfortunately, at present, aquaculture is not popular because the fish caught by fishermen can be sold cheaper than the fish raised in aquaculture.
Upon examination of these facts it is easy to see that the fish should once again be banned. If the fish is again banned it may begin to thrive and its numbers may be restored to those seen in 1970.
Unfortunately, though, if the season remains open, the next banning of rockfish may be a necessity to prevent extinction. Also, if the ban is reinstated then aquaculture may become worthwhile and in the near future we may get cheap rockfish that are toxin-free at our local grocery store. Therefore, I see no evident reason why the ban shouldn't be reinstated.
STIFFER PUNISHMENT FOR DRUNKEN DRIVERS
From: Ariona Amendola
Drunken driving -- should it be taken lightly? I say, 'No way!' Drunken driving is one of the major causes (of) death in the United States, and if you think that should be taken lightly, then you're wrong. This terrible offense should be punished drastically.We shouldn't let these irresponsible motorists be let off with just a slap on the wrist.
Labeling a drunken driver on his license plate is a good idea. This action will not only embarrass the convicted person, but it will never let he or she forget what they did. It also warns other drivers who are on the road with the convicted driver.
This punishment is believed to have its flaws. Labeling this action on a license plate also means punishing the rest of the family of thedrunk driver. This is true, but should this be an excuse? I think not!
Another punishment to consider is to make the convicted drunkendrivers talk to junior high and high school students about drunken driving. They should present movies and lecture these young adults on the problem. They will maybe think about what they have done, and in the future think twice before driving while drunk.
I know the state of Maryland is trying hard to find a solution. This is a serious offense, and it should be taken with a serious attitude when it comes to convicting. Drunken drivers will drive while drunk again if we don't punish them harshly!
ENVIRONMENTAL TIP: ELIMINATE PLASTIC BAGS
From: Martin A. Braun
With all the current worries about the cluttering of our landfills with non-biodegradable materials, one simple part of the problem has not been appropriately addressed.
All grocery stores now use plastic bags, which eventually getthrown out as soon as they complete the duty of moving the goods from the store to the house. These bags, while they may not be the largest space-fillers at the dump, can easily be eliminated as an environmental problem.
In most grocery stores, they give you plastic bags automatically, unless you specifically ask for paper. One step to quickly reduce the use of plastic bags is for the grocery stores to havetheir (checkers) give paper, unless plastic is asked for. The paper bags are more durable, and are more suitable than the wimpy plastic bags to double as trash holders at home.
Second, abolish the use ofany plastics at all. The stores, of course, will groan in protest, already having the facilities that make the plastic bags. But allow them two years to continue using the plastic bags. This is ample time for them to empty their stores of remaining plastic bags and to changethe facilities to make paper ones instead.
Paper bags make much more sense. They are sturdier and don't seem to tear as easily. They can carry more than the bags the grocery stores use now. They are better suited for trash bags at home or can be used as lunch bags for people with bigger appetites. And most important, they are biodegradable.
Of course, the environment has bigger problems than grocery bags, but the plastic bags do add to the pollution, and they are one of the few problems that can be solved without a lot of hassle.
LET MARY ROSE GET ON WITH THE JOB
From: Dianne L. Moore
Over the past several months, there has been much in the newspaper about several political appointees who were dismissed by Mary Rose.
As I recall, a report by the state of Maryland found many managementproblems and called for changes in this office. That is why we elected Mary Rose to be Clerk of the Circuit Court: to implement the changes necessary to correct the management abuses the state report cited.
I believe that Mrs. Rose's decision to dismiss Mr. George and twoother top management officials is consistent with the charge we voters gave her. If the state of Maryland found that the management of this office was incompetent and we the voters decided it was time for achange, then Mrs. Rose has every right to dismiss these appointees.
While these appointees have every right to sue anyone they choose,I believe that their current case belittles our right to elect the person whom we feel will best fill the position and whom we believe will restore our confidence and respect in this governmental office.
ROCK CREEK NEEDS A HEALTH ANALYSIS
From: Darlene Schepleng
As a resident of Rock Creek, I was outraged to learn through a recent Anne Arundel County Sun article that our health department will likely fund a study on the Severn River. This study, at a cost of$27,940, will try to solve the high levels of bacteria that plague the Severn in the summer.
Three large areas of Rock Creek have beenclosed now for 10 years. Our residents, whose property taxes continue to skyrocket, have been unable to use the water.
We have asked both the county and state to find the source of our high fecal coliform bacteria levels. We have held meetings, signed petitions, written letters and sought to reduce our taxes here. Yet the contamination problem has not been solved.
Should not Rock Creek be the recipient of a study to solve our high fecal coliform levels? We only know that this bacteria originates in the feces of warm-blooded animals, strongly suggesting a sewage problem.
Residents of the Severn have not been prevented from enjoying their river both recreationally and aesthetically as we have.
BOB SPORE'S COLUMN IS A 'SUPERIOR' ASSET
From: Dan Zivi
I want to acknowledge with you how much I enjoy Capt. Bob Spore's column, which appears in the Anne Arundel County Sun. On Friday and Sunday, after looking over the front pageof The Sun, Spore's column is the next thing I read.
I am an avidsport fisherman with a lifelong obsession with the bay (during my college years I worked summers crab potting and one winter gill nettingfor rockfish). I read many fishing and outdoor articles in Maryland's newspapers and I feel that Spore's articles are superior to any of the others.
To have a good charter boat captain reporting on the local and state fishing is a real asset to Anne Arundel County fishermen. I do not know of any other authors who spend as much time as Spore does out on the bay.
I also feel his in-depth coverage of the political and biological background associated with fishing and the bayare better and more comprehensive than any of the other columns.
COMMERCE CHAMBER THANKS AREA DONORS
From: Shawna Musgrove
Greater Annapolis Chamber of Commerce
During the Christmas holiday, the Greater Annapolis Chamber of Commerce adopted a family through the Salvation Army. The chamber staff provided food and gifts for the family of four in the Annapolis area.
We offer our thanks to Dennis Nolte, Chesapeake Telephone Systems; Nan Chandonnet and staff at Manpower Temporary Service; Shelly and Paul Shaplin, Signs Now; Tracey Walter, CDI Temporary Services; Fred Sussman, Wright, Wright, Sussman; and Herman Schieke, Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau for their contributions. With their support of the project we were able to supply three young childrenand a mother with a wonderful Christmas!
SHARING PROGRAM HELPED 4,422 FAMILIES
From: Christine H. Poulsen
Director, Volunteer Services
Anne Arundel County Department Social Services
The Holiday Sharing Program, co-sponsored by the Medical Auxiliary of Anne Arundel County and the Volunteer Office at the Department of Social Services just completed its 11th year of assisting county residents for the holidays. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, 4,422 families were helped. In addition, more than 2,413 children were helped with clothing, toys and gift certificates.
This program takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to coordinate. The success of the program would notbe possible without all of the people who generously donate their skills and energy during the busy holiday season.
A special thanks goes to the Medical Auxiliary who staff the Holiday Sharing Office from October through January, along with the many churches, agencies andcommunity groups that coordinate their efforts with holiday sharing.This year many private county residents, young and old, also donatedtheir time in the holiday sharing office. A special thanks goes to all of them.
There is not enough room to list all the donors who adopt a family and shop and deliver food and gifts, the many businessesin the county who donate money in lieu of company gifts so needy families could be helped.
To mention a few: a special thanks to Robert Neall, our county executive, and the Anne Arundel Trade Council, which helped raise business awareness of the program; the friends and patrons of Northco; Congressman Tom McMillen and the county Democraticoffice-holders and party officials; the Annapolis Lions; Farmers National Banker; the U.S. Marines and Toys for Tots; Santa Claus Anonymous; St. Mary's Church; the Christian Assistance Program; the Salvation Army; and the Angels of Anne Arundel County.
There are not enough words to say thank you from myself and the clients of Social Services.
AVIATION ADMINISTRATION TAKES 'RIGID' POSITION
From: Dennis Stevens
Airport Coordinating Team
Back in September of 1990, Circuit Court Judge Warren Duckett Jr. ruled that the Board of Review (composed of seven appointed members) of the Maryland Department of Transportation had jurisdiction over the Airport Coordinating Team's appeal regarding the certification procedure for the BWI Airport Noise Zone and the adequacy of the noise abatement plan, and should allow ACT's arguments to be heard before the board.
It clearly made sense to us and Judge Duckett that citizens who disagree withdecisions of the administrator of the Maryland Aviation Administration should have recourse prior to any formal court proceeding, throughthe benefit of a review by a board composed of appointed citizens. In this procedure, citizens representing different backgrounds could look at arguments of both sides and make their rulings.
We believe it was the intention of those responsible for drafting the legislation initially forming the Department of Transportation that appeals like ours should be heard before such a board. It is both logical and reasonable to arrive at such a conclusion.
Coincidentally, if a request to the Aviation Administration to construct an addition to a homeor build a home inside the certified airport noise zone (yes, the MAA does have authority over home construction and additions to existing homes located within the airport noise zone) is denied, the party involved can automatically enter an appeal to the Board of Airport Zoning Appeals in a second administrative procedure. This board is also composed of appointed members.
With regard to our litigation, the MAA attorney of the Attorney General's Office has appealed Judge Duckett's decision for reasons not entirely understood. This appeal has gone to the Court of Special Appeals. In November of 1990, the judge assigned to this case ordered that attempts be made to reach an out-of-court settlement.
This has failed because of the rigid and uncompromising attitude of the MAA attorney. It appears that the Attorney General's office prefers delay rather than a fair settlement that would avoid extra expenditures by both the state and ACT.