(Jan. 18, 2013) The 39th annual Maryland Watermen’s Association’s East Coast Commercial Fishermen’s & Aquaculture Trade Expo, scheduled for this weekend at the Ocean City convention center, will feature a number of exhibits, seminars and programs that highlight not only the commercial seafood industry, but also aquaculture, the industry of raising seafood in ponds, tanks and net pens.
Created in 1974 by the Maryland Watermen’s Association as a showplace for the commercial seafood industry, the annual show has expanded over the years to include much more. Those interested in starting an aquaculture business can gather valuable information during the three-day expo. Attendees can also learn more about commercial fishing, charter or recreational boating and sports fishing.
According to coordinator Melissa Boe, approximately 85 exhibitors will offer an assortment of services and products, including boats, engines, electronics, safety gear, clothing and fishing equipment. Recreational fishermen will also have the opportunity to purchase equipment and gear used by professionals.
“The expo caters to recreational and commercial fishermen and aquaculturists,” Boe said. Between 3,000 and 5,000 people attend the expo annually. “We have more boats this year and quite a few new vendors.”
Coast Guard safety and gear demonstrations are scheduled from 11-11:30 a.m. Saturday, on the dock behind the 40th Street venue.
A number of seminars will be presented on Saturday. Among the topics are blue crabs, fishery research by watermen for watermen, shellfish, Maryland’s Watermen apprenticeship program, the oyster culture business and feasibility planning tools, among others.
Also on Saturday, the Maryland Blue Crab Industry Design Team will have a panel discussion from 3-3:30 p.m. The team will provide an overview of what it has accomplished and answer questions from guests. For more information about the design team and its mission, visit www.watermenway.com.
The Mid-Atlantic Waterman of the Year competitions, sponsored by Martin Fish Company and Vane Brothers, will begin around 2 p.m. on Saturday. All are invited to participate in the competitions, which include net mending, rope splicing and knot tying.
Four chefs will demonstrate and prepare seafood recipes on Saturday. Guests can sample the dishes and ask questions of the featured chefs.
A new addition to this year’s expo is the Children’s Learning Center. Youngsters can harvest and hand tong for oysters in the ORP Lil Nippers display and learn how to repair nets and make crab pots. Watermen in the Classroom presentations will be offered, as well.
“We’ve made it interactive for the kids,” Boe said. “We want to show and teach kids about the history of Maryland and where the watermen fit in.”
Expo hours are Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission price is $12 per day. A two-day pass cost $20, and a three-day pass is $25. Children 12 and younger will be admitted free.
A cocktail party and auction event will take place tonight, Friday, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Clarion Hotel on 101st Street. The event is open to the public. Tickets, which can be purchased at the expo or at the door this evening, cost $20.
Raffle tickets are also available for a 2013 Ford 150 4×4 truck. Tickets cost $100 each and can be purchased at the expo. The drawing is Sunday at 4 p.m.
For more information about the expo, call 410-216-6610.