A panel of Maryland historic preservationists has put Maryland's watermen on their 2012 Endangered Maryland list. The list, compiled by Preservation Maryland, traditionally includes historically and architecturally distinguished properties that are threatened with destruction through neglect or development. Ten such properties were named this year.
Endangered Maryland's board members said that they "hoped that the inclusion of watermen on the list will encourage Marylanders to talk about the continued existence of these fixtures in our state."
The Chesapeake Conservancy and the Coastal Heritage Alliance nominated the waterman for the list. The two groups have worked with the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and the Maryland Watermen's Association to develop a Waterman's Heritage Tourism Training Program to provide watermen and their family members with skills they would need to provide tours or programs about their region's stories, local waters and their work.
Maryland Magazine features a story on the Endangered Maryland list, as does Preservation Maryland's website.
"Watermen have been a part of Maryland's history for as long as there has been a state," said Joel Dunn, executive director of the Chesapeake Conservancy. "Sadly, it is more and more difficult for them to make a living on the water and there are fewer young people joining their ranks. We hope this designation brings renewed support for Maryland's caught-and-raised seafood, and for the many small towns around the Bay from which watermen have traditionally worked, and for a healthy Bay."
Larry Simns, president of the Maryland Watermen's Association, said, "Watermen learn their trade, for the most part, from other watermen, mainly family members. It is handed down from one generation to another. It is not a trade that can be learned from books, so protecting the traditions, stories, and history of these men and women is critically important."