The “ghost fleet” sunk in the mud of Mallows Bay never saw action in World War I. But nearly a century later, the decaying wrecks of more than 100 wooden steamships built for that war and left to rot in the Potomac River have triggered a new conflict.
A proposal by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to create a new national marine sanctuary around the skeletal remains of those vessels has riled commercial fishermen in Maryland and Virginia. Despite assurances to the contrary, they see the move as a potential threat to their livelihood. They have flocked to public meetings to oppose it, saying they fear it could restrict or block their access to waters where they’ve harvested a bounty of fish, crabs and oysters for years.
“The word ‘sanctuary,’ makes us shake,” John Dean, president of the St. Mary’s County Watermen’s Association, said at a public meeting earlier this month. “Please leave this alone.”[Continue Reading]