The Potomac River Fisheries Commission is a quiet organization. With a staff of just five people, it makes its headquarters in sleepy Colonial Beach, on Virginia's Northern Neck. It is a fairly stable organization, with only three leaders since the organization was founded in 1958. Its job is to regulate recreational and commercial fishing in the tidal Potomac. Its eight commissioners are equally split between Maryland and Virginia, a move made necessary because the states' oystermen used to shoot at each other from across its shores.
There hadn't been any shooting in years, and not many oysters to speak of either. Instead, the commission has been involved in restoring striped bass, helping Virginians fight for a menhaden fishery and attempting to restore oysters. Its previous head, A.C. Carpenter, was well respected on fisheries issues. And now the commission has a new head, Martin Gary, a Baltimore native who has spent the past 27 years with Maryland's Department of Natural Resources.
Gary tells the Frederick News-Post that he wanted the chance to participate in the inter jurisdictional fisheries process. http://news.fredericksburg.com/newsdesk/2013/09/08/setting-sights-on-the-potomacs-recovery/
In addition to navigating the Maryland-Virginia interests, the commission also has a seat on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
Gary is well-known for working with constituents that can be at odds with each other. At DNR, he worked with watermen, recreational groups and the public. He's widely respected and has been in the field as a biologist for nearly three decades, so he knows both the science and the policy.
His biggest challenges: figuring out what's ailing crabs in the river, restoring oysters, and determining whether and when the Potomac might get its own aquaculture program. Carpenter pushed for that in his last year, but Maryland, which owns the Potomac, said no. Its DNR was not confident that the commission had the resources to manage it.
Staff numbers haven't changed since then, but the people have. Perhaps Gary will be able to lobby his former employer for permission to regulate aquaculture in the tidal Potomac. Time will tell.