and as a result of the opinion stated by the Attorney General, I feel
that I must veto this particular legislation.
(s) J. MILLARD TAWES,
House Bill No. 834—Rock Fish
AN ACT to repeal and re-enact, with amendments, Section 293 of
Article 66C of the Annotated Code of Maryland (1957 Edition),
title "Natural Resources", sub-title "Fish and Fisheries", sub-
heading, "Part 2. Tidal Waters", relating to rock fish caught with
hook and line.
May 4, 1959.
Honorable Perry O. Wilkinson
Speaker of the House of Delegates
Dear Mr. Speaker:
I have today vetoed House Bill 834. As is required by Article 2,
Section 17 of the Maryland Constitution, I am returning this Bill
to your body along with my reasons for vetoing same.
House Bill 834 as finally approved by the General Assembly, will
legalize the catching of a rock fish, weighing fifteen pounds or more
in any waters of the State provided they are taken by hook and line
only, not for commercial purposes, and within a limit of not more
than one fish per day per person. In other words, under the pro-
visions of this Bill, a sports fisherman would be allowed to retain
one oversized rock fish per day, if he were lucky enough to catch
Biologically, the present statute, which, since 1929, has prohibited
the capture of such fish, is believed to be one of the most important
factors entering into the management of this species. Undoubtedly
the 1929 statute is responsible for the record high production of
rock fish enjoyed in recent years.
The majority of the female rock fish do not reach sexual maturity
until they are about five years of age, or when they weigh about
four-and-a-half pounds. It is well established that the number of
spawnable eggs produced by a female rock fish increase with age and
size. A fifteen pound female will average about one-and-a-half million
spawnable eggs during the spawning season, while a forty-eight
pound rock fish has been found to produce five-and-a-half million eggs
during one season. Contrary to much speculation, all biological evi-
dence now indicates the eggs of a larger fish to be viable. Spawn
of a twenty-seven pound rock fish have been hatched successfully.
Enforcement of House Bill 834 will be extremely difficult. By
merely having present a hook and line, a commercial fisherman and
his crew would be in an excellent position to contest the charge that
any rock fish—fifteen pounds or more in his possession—was caught
commercially. Furthermore, enforcement of the 'no-sale' provision
in the Bill would be highly impractical. Even though such large fish