All 13 Eastern Shore members of the General Assembly and a group of about 100 Talbot County watermen have called for the resignation of state tidal fisheries director George Krantz, who last week said he envisioned dramatically fewer watermen working the Chesapeake Bay in 10 years.
Shore delegation chairman William S. Horne (D-Easton) said the 10 delegates and three senators representing the region today authorized a letter to Gov. Harry Hughes asking Hughes to seek Krantz's resignation.
Horne said the move was in response to comments Krantz made in an interview with The Washington Post last week. Krantz said his personal vision of the Chesapeake Bay 10 years from now included only a few hundred of the 12,000-odd watermen who currently harvest the bay's resources, and the future watermen would work under a quota system and employ some highly efficent, nontraditional techniques.
The legislative effort came one day after the Bay Hundred Waterman's Association, meeting at the firehouse on Tilghman Island, unanimously voted to demand Krantz's immediate resignation.
Krantz and his boss, Natural Resources Secretary Torrey Brown, were in Savannah, Ga., at a fisheries meeting. Brown said by telephone that requests for Krantz's resignation would be "taken seriously, but I don't think we'll fire Dr. Krantz.
"He's entitled to have his own views or his own predictions, but they are not state policy," Brown added. "The governor disagrees with them and I do, to the extent that they appear to seek lower numbers of watermen."
Horne said Krantz should resign because "it's important for the governor to have someone in that position who shares the views of the administration." He cited Hughes' statements that in effect said the administration's aim is to clean up the bay so that watermen and sportsmen who use it can prosper in the future in traditional ways.
"We believe Dr. Krantz has a right to express his opinion," said Horne, "but our constituents perceive this as not just opinion but an indication of future policy. What he says often becomes policy."
Tilghman Island waterman Russell Dize said, "There wasn't a dissenting vote" at the Monday meeting of the Bay Hundred Association. "It was 100 percent in favor of getting rid of him Krantz ."
Krantz "put his foot in his mouth," said Dize. "We knew that's how he felt, but he never said it in public in the year and a half since he's had his job. Now he's said it, and it'll be his undoing."