DNR Secretary Says Comment Was Miscommunication - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

DNR Secretary Says Comment Was Miscommunication

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Letter Courtesy Department of Natural Resources Letter Courtesy Department of Natural Resources
Part 1 - Letter Courtesy Maryland Waterman's Association Part 1 - Letter Courtesy Maryland Waterman's Association
Part 2 - Letter Courtesy Maryland Waterman's Association Part 2 - Letter Courtesy Maryland Waterman's Association

ANNAPOLIS, Md.- Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Joe Gill says his comments to Maryland Watermen's Association president Robert Brown were misunderstood.

Following a hearing on SB/HB 145 last week, which would allow the DNR to open, close, or modify fisheries in a 48 hour period, Brown says he was having a conversation when Gill approached him.

"Joe Gill, he wasn't even in the conversation, but when he came by, he came up to me and said, 'if this bill doesn't pass, I'm going to be so conservative and cut quotas and hurt you.  Did you hear me?  I will hurt you.'" said Brown.

After hearing this, Brown drafted a letter to Delegate Maggie McIntosh, chairman of the House Environmental Matter Committee, to ask that Gill not be allowed to participate in any meeting to discuss catch quotas.  Afterwards, he approached Senator Richard Colburn, who on Friday, called for the postponement of Gill's reconfirmation as DNR Secretary.

"If you look at the Maryland seal, you see a farmer and a watermen.  We want to keep the waterman on the Maryland seal, and we can't have a Department of Natural Resources Secretary who will arbitrarily cut off the oyster season or the crabbing season for waterman." said Senator Colburn.

In a response letter, Secretary Gill says this is all a misunderstanding, and that he was trying to say that if the current public notice system was not in place, more conservative quotas would have to be enforced.  He says watermen have benefited from the current system, and he does not wish any harm upon them.

But Brown isn't convinced.

"I know what he said.  It wasn't a misunderstanding." said Brown.

Senate Bill 145 was pulled following Friday's allegations until it can be proven that Gill is unbiased.  His confirmation has been rescheduled for February 14.

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