Maryland Freedom to Fish Act Signed into Law

Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. signed the Freedom to Fish Act into law in May, demonstrating his support for Maryland's fishermen and fishing industries. The law establishes important standards that must be met before any of the state's waters can be closed to fishermen. "This law recognizes the social and economic importance of recreational fishing and helps protect the rights of salt water anglers in Maryland," said Michael Doebley, Deputy Director of Government Affairs for the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA). Under the new law, the state would have to evaluate whether less severe management measures will be effective before an area can be closed to recreational fishing. Sponsored primarily by Senator Roy Dyson and Delegate George Owings, the law requires a scientific basis for the size of any closure, a program to monitor a closure to determine if it is achieving its goal, and provisions to reopen areas to recreational fishing when the basis for a closure no longer exists. The RFA teamed up with the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other organizations to lobby for the legislation. For more information, visit www.joinrfa.org.