Tag Archives: Maryland

Veteran Waterman Kenley “Sonny” Tilghman Hampton, Jr. has passed away

Kenley “Sonny” Tilghman Hampton, Jr. of Centreville, MD passed away on January 11, 2022.  Locally known as “Sonny Boy”. He was 89. After his father’s passing at a young age, Sonny gave up his education to help care for his mother and siblings. Well known as a Veteran waterman, first starting in our own backyard, him and his brother, Abby, were the first waterman to introduce diesel engines on their work boats. Whether it be advice or lending a helping hand he was always willing and ready to help within his community. A community in which he will be deeply missed. >click to read< 09:58

Wind reps, Ocean City fishermen still far apart – “We’re going to be pushed out,,,

Last week, representatives from US Wind, Director of External Affairs Nancy Sopko, Director of Marine Affairs Ben Cooper and Fisheries Liaison Ron Larsen, briefed the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council on their progress in the area and their discussions with fishermen. “They’re trying to say they’re going to work with us said Roger Wooleyhan. When asked if the meeting signaled significant progress, Wooleyhan replied, “No, I don’t. We’re going to be pushed out and all these guys who are making a living are going to be put out. >click to read<  08:43

US Wind extends moratorium, Ocean City fishermen remain skeptical – Their fishery liaisons are working directly with local fisherman to ensure strong coordination between the industries. However, longtime Ocean City fisherman Jimmy Hahn wasn’t too thrilled by the supposed good news from US Wind. >click to read< 08:43

Watermen tackle offshore wind farm development concerns, company pushes (subsidized) economic benefit

“I just want to be able to go fishing.” Those were fisherman Jimmy Hahn’s words as he is one of many who are concerned about U.S. Wind offshore wind developments. Now with political leaders on their side, watermen hope to see some change moving forward. “Those guys have really stepped up to the plate. “People who buy electricity in the state are paying an extra amount in order to subsidize the windmills. That means that someone should stand up for these taxpayers. If we’re going to spend taxpayer dollars to build these windmills and subsidize them there should be proper oversight,” Representative Harris said. Another concern that came up Wednesday by waterman and Congressman Harris was the possibility of U.S. Wind not being an actual U.S. based company. >click to read< 09:03

Fishermen feel “railroaded” – Standoff at sea sours fishermen, US Wind relations

After an on the water standoff between commercial fisherman Jimmy Hahn and a US Wind survey boat, Rep. Andy Harris met with area fisherman to discuss encroachment into fishing areas. The closed meeting Wednesday, also attended by state Sen. Mary Beth Carozza, included more than 12 fishermen primarily from Ocean City,, “If these wind mills are allowed to be placed out here, we’re out of business. You’ll no longer see any fresh seafood coming into Ocean City,” Hahn said.,, “It means a great deal having Rep. Harris listen,” he said. “You have to have someone to speak up. We’re just getting railroaded and we don’t have any say at all.” >click to read< 14:50

Watermen Meet Elected Reps Over Conflict – Conch Pots Destroyed By Offshore Wind Farm Survey Vessel

Last week, a US Wind vessel surveying offshore was outside the designated lease area and ran through a setup of conch pots and destroyed some of the commercial vessel’s equipment. Captain Jimmy Hahn, whose conch pots were destroyed, briefly confronted the survey boat Emma McCall,,, US Wind representatives explained how the survey vessel was out of the lease area and ran over the pots accidentally. For his part, Hahn believes the incident was a symptom of a much larger issue that is only going to get worse. Last week’s incident has captured the attention of the area’s elected officials. On Wednesday, U.S. Congressman Andy Harris and Senator Mary Beth Carozza held a closed-door meeting with local watermen.>click to read< 12:30

Preserve The Heritage Of Maryland’s Seafood Industry

A newspaper article published last month reported that Maryland comptroller and announced candidate for governor Peter Franchot promised, if elected governor, to phase out the centuries-old wild commercial oystering industry, likely starting with a moratorium. The article also quoted Franchot saying he would rather “properly compensate” watermen for losing their jobs than find a bipartisan solution. I can guarantee that if this happens, you will eventually destroy the entire seafood industry as we know it. I find this to be a knee-jerk reaction by someone who has spent little time trying to help the industry over his many years in politics but has obviously spent a great deal of time counting votes promised by environmental groups. >click to read< By Ron H. Fithian  08:52

Photo’s! Hoopers Island boat docking competition to benefit Hoopers Island Volunteer Fire Company

The Hoopers Island Boat Docking went off without hitch, and with a lot of hitches as boat captains competed in the annual fundraising competition. The competition to benefit the Hoopers Island Volunteer Fire Company was held on Sunday, Sept. 12, at the P.L. Jones Boatyard in Fishing Creek. Ryan Kastel in Kastel Bros. came in first in the small boats category, Will Watkins took first in medium boats in No Smoke and John Ashton placed first in large boat in Miss Julie. Derrick Hoy and his crew on Crusher took the teams category, and Ashton and Hoy won the shootouts for over 36 foot and under 36 foot boats respectively. 8 photos, >Click to read< 13:26

Charter Boat Operator Arrested for Violating Captain of the Port Order and Endangering Passengers

Terrance Dale Roy was arrested by Coast Guard Investigative Service special agents on July 21 and stands accused of violating a Coast Guard Captain of the Port Order issued pursuant to the Ports and Waterways Safety Act, as well as failing to properly report a hazardous condition and operating his boat in a grossly negligent manner. The Coast Guard issued Roy a Captain of the Port Order back in May after his vessel, the Fishing Lady, sank at a pier in Kent Narrows, Maryland. The order prohibited the vessel from operating commercially until the vessel’s seaworthiness was determined by Coast Guard. Without making the repairs necessary to have the order removed, Roy took on 34 paying passengers out over Father’s Day weekend. >click to read< , >more here<16:43

Community mourns passing of ‘a great American’, Capt. Warren Butler

Lifelong waterman, Captain Warren Butler, 92, died unexpectedly, Friday, July 2, of apparent heart failure. Upon learning of his death, Jerry Harris, founding family member of Harris Seafood, and Harris Crab House at Kent Narrows, said, “My whole family knew Captain Warren. He was a great man, a great American. He sold oysters to my father. I looked up to Captain Warren all my life. Black or white, he was a role model, someone to model your own life by. I wish there were many more people in the world like Captain Warren!” Butler had a lifetime passion working as a waterman, first, working alongside his father and brothers to help support their family. From 1954 to 1983, Butler worked in the oyster and crab industry in Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey. Throughout his life, he owned and operated 17 commercial boats, carrying may fishing parties out of the Chesapeake Bay, also oystering and sightseeing. photos, >click to read< 08:10

Maryland oyster industry may be forever altered by Coronavirus pandemic

The pandemic-impacted oyster season has been difficult for the industry in Maryland, causing farmers and watermen to rethink how they sell their product and changing how programs conduct oyster restoration. Robert Brown, waterman and oyster grower, has bottom oyster leases on the tributaries of the Potomac River. Brown, president of the Maryland Watermen’s Association, said he sells the majority of his oysters to oyster packaging houses, which aren’t working at capacity because they can’t sell the oysters once they shuck them. Watermen are being hit hard in the pandemic, and it might be a few years before we get back to normal,,, >click to read< 08:36

Oyster Prices Plummet As Diners Stay Home Amid Pandemic

With several hours of daylight to spare, Ronnie Robbins and his son, Jason, had already docked their 36-foot deadrise workboat on Hooper’s Island and started unloading their briny cargo.,,, It isn’t a supply problem. Watermen in Maryland and Virginia alike say they are having no trouble landing their daily wild oyster quotas.,,, “We got lots of oysters, and they’re excellent quality,” said Bill Sieling,,,  The problem is decreased demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. >click to read< 09:31

Elected Officials Hear Concerns From Watermen

Elected officials assured commercial watermen they heard their concerns at a meeting last week. On Oct. 16, Congressman Andy Harris joined Sen. Mary Beth Carozza and Delegate Wayne Hartman to meet with commercial fishermen at the West Ocean City Commercial Harbor. Harris offered support as they pursue changes to ensure local watermen can continue to earn a living. “You just tell us when and to whom we have to make the case,” Harris said. Harris joined Carozza and Hartman at Sea Born Seafood last Friday to talk about issues facing local fishermen. Sonny Gwin, who operates the Skilligallee, stressed the importance of maintaining local boats’ ability to fish for black sea bass. Watermen also asked Harris to work toward increasing limits on red crabs. >click to read< 12:20

“Kicking Lightly” Arthur Jones celebrates 101st birthday

Longtime Queen Anne’s County resident Arthur “Kicking Lightly” Jones of Grasonville celebrated his 101st birthday,, Arthur would also begin working in the seafood industry, mostly at the Kent Narrows — where he was employed for at least 53 years — serving as a foreman at several packing houses that once existed there, managing oyster and clam harvests from the Chesapeake Bay. He met many waterman, and other people, who always asked, “How are you doing?” He’d respond, “Just kickin’, lightly.” From that expression, he earned the nickname “Kickin’ Lightly,” which he is still known by today. He also has been known as Captain Arthur, although he was not a waterman.>click to read< 12:11

Hot Air And The Offshore Wind Industry – Claims it will invigorate these state economies are thin gruel

Seven Atlantic Coast states—Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Virginia have enacted mandates to subsidize the development of thousands of megawatts of offshore wind turbines. In addition to making bold claims about environmental benefits, proponents promise the mandates will create new offshore wind manufacturing and service industries that will create jobs, and lots of them, along the eastern seaboard.,, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority claims that developing 2,400 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind will create 5,000 new jobs and $6.3 billion in infrastructure spending. Similar claims of economic grandeur have been made in New Jersey and Virginia. Not to be outdone, the American Wind Energy Association claims the offshore wind industry will create between 45,000 and 83,000 new jobs by 2030. >click to read< 12:05

As Wind Farm Proceeds, So Does Pushback – Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind and Eversource Energy, which are developing the proposed South Fork Wind farm, filed a joint proposal with the New York State Public Service Commission,, Commercial fishermen are almost universally opposed to the wind farm, fearing an impact on their livelihood, >click to read< 13:47

Maryland’s wild oyster harvest doubles from last year

Despite having fewer days to work, Maryland watermen harvested nearly twice as many wild oysters last season as they did the previous year, state officials report. Even so, a new study finds the state’s population of bivalves is in much better shape now than it was two years ago, with abundance up and overfishing down. As a result, state fisheries managers say they’re weighing whether to maintain catch restrictions put in place last season or relax them for the next wild harvest season, which normally begins Oct. 1. Data presented Monday night to the Department of Natural Resources’ Oyster Advisory Commission indicates that the overall abundance of adult, market-size oysters in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay has rebounded considerably since 2018 and is now at the fifth highest level since 1999. >click to read< 17:01

Female Blue Crab Population Up In Chesapeake Bay, Juvenile Numbers Low

Chesapeake Bay blue crab population appears to have a healthy number of spawning-age female crabs, according to the 2020 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey. Maryland, Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission aims to conserve more than 70 million adult female crabs annually to ensure enough young crabs can be produced to sustain the population, a task that has now been achieved for the sixth consecutive year. This year’s survey estimates 141 million adult female crabs were conserved, which is above the long-term average of 126 million. The total amount of blue crab in the Chesapeake Bay in 2020 was 405 million crabs,,, >click to read< 14:56

Md. crabbing industry fears long-term impacts of 2020 visa shortages – “Finding Americans that are willing to do this job, it’s not happening.”

Maryland’s famous crab industry is facing an uphill battle. With another year of visa caps, there’s a severe shortage of migrant workers to work as crab pickers ― and few Americans willing to do the job. This year, Maryland crabbers fear for the life of an industry that has been in their families for generations. Only nine crab processors ― which represent 95% of the state’s crab meat production ― remain in Maryland. The processors ― or picking houses ― rely on about 500 foreign seasonal workers to pick crabmeat each year. To work in the United States those workers need H-2B visas designated for temporary non-agricultural workers. >click to read< 18:54

Father and son continue the Tilghman Island boatbuilding tradition

John C. Kinnamon Sr. and his son J.C., of Tilghman Island, Maryland are steadily turning out fiberglass-over-wood Chesapeake Bay deadrise workboats for Maryland and Virginia commercial fisherman. The Kinnamons are native Tilghman Islanders. Their lives as professional boatbuilders are strongly tied to their growing-up years, when commercial fishing and boatbuilding were vital to island life. They each own commercial fishing boats and work in Maryland’s blue crab trotline fishery. J.C., with the help of his father, builds about four new glass-over-wood deadrise workboats a year. With knowledge that comes from first-hand experience, the Kinnamons have clear insight into what a Chesapeake Bay waterman wants and needs in a workboat. >click to read< 10:20

Seafood industry visa fix in question after Coronavirus outbreak

With the aid of lawmakers, seafood businesses in Maryland, Virginia, Alaska and North Carolina last month won federal approval of an additional 35,000 visas for non-immigrant workers, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. Within days, the coronavirus pandemic began shutting down businesses, including restaurants and retail outlets the seafood industry supplies. Some seafood operations let employees go, while others have hired fewer people than they would in a more typical season. Jack Brooks, president of J.M. Clayton Seafood Co. in Cambridge, Maryland, explained that the seafood industry is a seasonal business and the coronavirus has hit the hardest during the industry’s prime time.  >click to read< 13:16

Coronavirus: Maryland seafood industry affected by outbreak

“Right now, the climate in the seafood business is absolutely horrific ever since the announcements that eat-in restaurants were shut down. We really took it on the chin. It virtually shut down the last two weeks that were left in the oyster season,”,  Out on the water, those who catch the oysters are feeling the pain, as well, on what was set to be one of the better oyster seasons on record. “It kind of put us out of business and now we’re looking at spring fishing and going into summer fishing, and the markets are slowed almost to a standstill for that and now we’re worried about the crabs,” said Jim Reihl, Maryland Oysterman’s Association president. Video, >click to read< 13:57

Lawmakers kill SB948 bill threatening watermen’s oyster licenses

A bill that recently prompted hundreds of watermen to descend on the Maryland State House to protest threats to their ability to harvest oysters has been withdrawn from consideration. Senate bill 948’s axing marks a legislative victory for Maryland watermen, who have had to defend their livelihoods from state regulation on numerous occasions through the years. “We’re tickled that it was killed,” said Jeff Harrison, president of the Talbot Watermen Association. more, >click to read< 07:14

Council passes legislation ending zoning dispute between watermen and a neighbor

When boys in the Whitehall Beach neighborhood reach teenage years, they go and work for the watermen. Some stay for a long time, some don’t, but Pat Donoho, who has lived across the street from the creek for 51 years, said the length of time is not as important as what they learn: a good work ethic. Donoho’s son was one of them — which is why she turned up to the Anne Arundel County Council chambers Tuesday night to testify in support of a bill that allows for watermen’s commercial use in certain residential areas, which were at risk due to zoning challenges. The council unanimously passed the bill following public comments. >click to read< 13:28

Not Fake News! Low salinity suspected for poor crab harvest in Upper Chesapeake

At the beginning of July, media across Maryland delivered good news for those planning a traditional feast of Chesapeake Bay blue crabs on Independence Day.,,, “The survey is in,” echoed WMAR, another Baltimore station, “and it comes with great news for Maryland crab lovers!” Someone apparently forgot to tell the crabs, at least in the Upper Bay. While supplies were generally ample in the Lower Bay through spring into summer, crabbers in other places had a hard time finding enough of the crustaceans to satisfy their crab-craving customers. “In 43 years of crab potting, this has been the worst I’ve seen,” Charles County waterman Billy Rice,,, >click to read< 14:36

Maryland overfishing imperils rockfish population – Recreational anglers are largely responsible

“The recent stock assessment shows that early action is needed to slow the decline and restore this fishery to sustainable levels,” Virginia Marine Resources Commissioner Steven G. Bowman said in a statement.,,, Recreational anglers are largely responsible. Since 2008, they have killed eight times more striped bass than commercial fishermen, with Maryland anglers harvesting a huge haul: nearly three times the number of fish taken by Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware and North Carolina — combined. >click to read<14:49

Maryland Act Boosts Offshore Wind Market

Maryland state lawmakers have passed the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) of 2019, which would incentivize the development of 1.2 GW of additional offshore wind energy off the coast of Maryland. US Wind Country Manager Salvo Vitale testified last month before the Senate Finance Committee and House Economic Matters Committee,,, urging passage of the legislation while citing the significant economic benefits that the legislation would make possible by incentivizing the development of 1,200 MegaWatts of additional offshore wind energy off the coast of Maryland. >click to read<14:14

Nine US States Seek to Stop Atlantic Seismic Testing

Attorneys general from nine U.S. states sued the Trump administration on Thursday to stop future seismic tests for oil and gas deposits off the East Coast, joining a lawsuit from environmentalists concerned the tests harm whales and dolphins. Seismic testing uses air gun blasts to map out what resources lie beneath the ocean. Conservationists say the testing, a precursor to oil drilling, can disorient marine animals that rely on fine-tuned hearing to navigate and find food. The tests lead to beachings of an endangered species, the North Atlantic right whale, they say. >click to read<11:09

Watermen: Open Anne Arundel oyster sanctuaries to harvesting

Herring Bay near Deale has eight historic oyster bars, all of them protected from harvesting because the area is an oyster sanctuary. But some commercial watermen say working small sanctuaries like Herring Bay could be better for the oysters, water, and people in the long run. Bill Scerbo, president of the Anne Arundel Watermen’s Association, wants to see sanctuaries like those in county waters reopened to commercial fishing. They say right now oysters in some low-salinity sanctuaries, like Herring Bay, aren’t reproducing naturally. “A lot of oysters have died of old age up here and haven’t been replaced,” the Shady Side resident said. >click to read<10:50

First U.S. Offshore Wind Developer Acts on Fishing Gear

U.S. offshore wind developer Deepwater Wind has adopted a first-of-its-kind procedure designed to prevent impacts to commercial fishing gear from its activities. Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm is America’s first offshore wind farm, and the company is currently in active development on utility-scale wind farms to serve Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Maryland. The procedure was developed in close coordination with the commercial fishing industry and is based off extensive feedback from fishermen in ports up and down the Atlantic coast. Deepwater Wind believes that keeping fishermen informed is the key to preventing damage to fishing gear. >click to read<18:19

Amid crab industry labor shortage, Maryland Rep. Harris says approval of 15,000 guest worker visas ‘imminent’

Federal immigration officials have agreed to approve 15,000 new guest worker visas for seasonal work, including in a Maryland crab industry grappling with a significant labor shortage, U.S. Rep. Andy Harris said Thursday. U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services would not confirm any changes to its H-2B visa program, which brings 66,000 immigrants to the country for work that employers can show they are unable to hire Americans to do. >click to read<13:09


On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia, signifying the end of the U.S. Civil War. One hundred and fifty-three years to the day, north and south are set to do battle yet again, this time over sea bass. From April 30 through May 3, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASFMC) will hold its 2018 spring meeting in Arlington, VA, a city that was once the dividing line between Confederates to the South and the Union Army to the north during the bloodiest war in U.S. history. >click to read<12:41