Maryland DNR Creates New Position To Hear From Fishery Stakehold - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland DNR Creates New Position To Hear From Fishery Stakeholders

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George O'Donnell (Photo: WBOC) George O'Donnell (Photo: WBOC)

CAMBRIDGE, Md.-  In the past if a waterman or other stakeholder had a problem with a Chesapeake Bay or Atlantic fishery, they would call somebody at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Now, the DNR is going to the stakeholders, and they are doing that through a man named George O'Donnell.

When Gov. Larry Hogan came into office in January, he promised transparency, as well as a stronger connection between the people and their government.  That's a promise watermen have been holding him to, and one that he appears to be following through on.

That is where O'Donnell comes into the picture. He is the DNR's new fisheries customer relations manager.  That means if you have a concern with a particular fishery, George is your guy.

"It's very difficult for citizens to walk the halls of government in Annapolis from the extremities of the state," O'Donnell said. "So we are going to do outreach to make sure everyone's opinions are heard by the policy markers in Annapolis as we work towards the best policies to regulate the fisheries."

Seafood buyers and watermen see this as a way their voices can be heard more when it comes to regulating their livelihoods.

"It's worth a shot to have a voice there. At least they will know what's going on, and how we feel.  Before, they haven't always listened, they don't care, they just made legislation whether it works or not," said waterman Lee Harper.

"I think the watermen have been under the impression that they don't care what they say.  So having a liaison that they can go to and talk with I think will definitely help things out," said TL Morris Seafood owner Josh Parker.

O'Donnell is not just here for the commercial guys, but the recreational fisherman, and anyone who has concerns about any fishery in the state.

"I'm here to represent everyone's interest," he said. "If you're a user of the bay, citizen or a group interest, I talk to you how to better serve your interests in Annapolis through the Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division."

O'Donnell said he does have some experience in this field. He used to be a waterman for 25 years.

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