With recent history confirming their worries are valid, members of the Ocean City fishing community have every reason to be alarmed about this week’s announcement of a plan to make an offshore fishing canyon a sanctuary.
The National Aquarium is currently seeking online support to nominate the Baltimore Canyon, a 28-mile long and five-mile wide submarine canyon three hours off Ocean City’s coast, as the country’s first Urban National Marine Sanctuary. A lot has to happen before this designation is received, including gauging public sentiment through the online petition drive, NOAA agreeing the canyon is worthy of designation, an environmental impact assessment and then a series of public hearings. This will likely take years to occur if it ever does.
However, the mere proposal of slapping a designation on the open water canyon sent fears through the fishing industry this week. The aquarium tried to get in front of those concerns by meeting with leading fishing industry representatives and elected officials before this week’s public announcement.