After reading last Sunday’s sports section (March 15) in The Star Democrat and seeing the article by Mr. Knauss, I immediately sent a letter off to the editor expressing my disgust and anger about the issue he addressed in his article on oysters titled “A rebuttal from our voiceless native oysters.”
The watermen in all counties worked very close with the Department of Natural Resources on restoration efforts using their money on oysters. I would like to specify that it is the money that is generated by the industry, not tax dollars, that is used in restoration efforts for oysters by the counties. And the tens of thousands of dollars that the Talbot County Watermen’s Association gives back to the community in donations to fire departments, veterans associations, the needy and elderly, after-school programs — oh, and most important of all — the scholarship funds that the county awards to the local students through essay competitions.
Mr. Knauss made some statements in his article mentioning that certain watermen were harvesting oysters from sanctuaries and polluted bottoms and selling them to the public. This is a 100% misrepresentation of the truth, or as a common person would call it, an outright lie! None of those two comments he made can be quantified over the past several years and have a lot of watermen very upset on the Eastern Shore.
Mr. Knauss should understand that watermen are hard-working men and women that do not take kindly to being made to look bad by a person that absolutely knows nothing of their industry, and what he does know he twists around to make himself glow in the dark.
The 1% historical low of oysters that Mr. Knauss mentions is inaccurate. No. !, from the 1700s to the 1920s there were no regulations on oysters for size, quantity or seasons. The oysters were harvested 24/7, 365 by everybody up and down the East Coast to bolster their oyster population. In 1923, a 3-inch oyster was put into law, thus creating a size limit. Going by that date and the harvest records, we are at a 16% to 20% level compared to that date, not 1%.
And one other thing, when John Smith sailed up the Chesapeake Bay, there weren’t several hundred million people living in the watershed, and the native Americans weren’t shopping at Walmarts and Targets. Due to the other matter, of where he quoted wrong numbers on the striped bass, the commercial fishery did not harvest 4 million pounds; they are limited to 1.4 million pounds. He quoted the amount of fish that can be caught by the entire state but pointed out it was the watermen that caught all of them. More B.S. Once, I reiterate again, he misquotes the facts and does not do his research properly.
This is not the first time that he has done this to those involved in the commercial fishery industry in Maryland. He has done it with clammers, crabbers and striped bass commercial fisherman. What he has to understand is, this is a natural resource which the good Lord has put on this Earth for all of us to enjoy, both commercial and recreationally. This is not a one-sided coin just to benefit certain nonprofit organizations with an agenda to curtail the commercial fishing industry.
We all know that Mr. Knauss carries the water for these groups, and not just by the pint, but by the gallons. I have listened for many years — to be exact, 34 — to these people testify in Annapolis and convince the legislators with misleading and untrue scientific findings. A lot of Mr. Knauss’s articles seem to follow the same format. The sign of a good journalist is when his article is backed up with truthful and honest facts, and not something that they just feel is the right thing.
The people that I represent that work on the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and also serve, sell, pack and deliver seafood are hard-working, honest, salt-of-the-earth people. Nobody holds a gun to their head and makes them go to work every day, even under adverse conditions, because this is what they love and what they know. And to have somebody in a local newspaper insult them in many ways and find fault with what they’re doing and how they do it is absolutely unacceptable.
Hopefully, this gentleman that writes for The Star Democrat newspaper will see the wrong that he has done and try to right it to make amends. After all, take a look at the great seal of the state of Maryland and see what’s on there. A farmer on the left and a fisherman on the right. These are the people that founded this state, and should be held up high and honored, not be beat down and disgraced by lies and mistruths by someone in the media.