Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. signed the Maryland Freedom to Fish Act into law in May. The law, sponsored primarily by Sen. Roy Dyson and delegate George Owings, establishes standards that must be met before any of the state’s waters can be closed off to fishermen.
“This law recognizes the social and economic importance of recreational fishing and does a lot to help protect the rights of saltwater anglers in Maryland,” said Michael Doebley, deputy director of government affairs for the Recreational Fishing Alliance.
Under the new law the state would have to evaluate whether less severe management measures would be effective before an area were closed to recreational fishing. The law requires a scientific basis for the size of any closure, a program of monitoring a closed area to determine if the benefits of closing the area are being achieved, and provisions to reopen areas to recreational fishing whenever the basis for a closure no longer exists.