The Shore Daily News reported this week that, during a work session, Betsy Mapp voiced concern over out-of-towners from Maryland and Delaware using Northampton’s public boat ramps, particularly the ramp at Morely’s Wharf. “These vehicles park all over everywhere,” she said at Tuesday night’s work session. “On several occasions, they parked in ways that blocked others from being able to launch their boats.” Northerners speeding and driving unsafely on Morley’s Wharf Road is also a major issue of concern.
Recreational fishermen from the north, chasing rockfish, croaker, and trout appear to be the major offenders. Would charging the visitor and tourist class boat fees ease the problem?
The use of boat fees to limit and control overcrowding at public boat ramps—the fees can help manage the use of public resources effectively. Overcrowding at boat ramps can lead to damage, increased maintenance costs, and potential safety issues.
The revenue generated from boat fees can be reinvested in maintaining and improving public boat ramps, including adding more facilities or expanding parking areas to accommodate more boats safely.
Boat fees can ensure that the costs of maintaining and operating boat ramps are covered by those who use them most, rather than relying solely on taxpayers.
Higher fees during peak usage times can encourage boaters to choose less busy times or alternate locations, helping to reduce overcrowding and long wait times.
On the flip side, public boat ramps are typically funded by taxpayers and are considered public resources. Some argue that fees may limit access to those who cannot afford to pay, potentially excluding lower-income individuals from enjoying public facilities.
Implementing a fee system can come with administrative costs, including collecting fees and enforcing them. These costs may offset the revenue generated, making the system less efficient.
On the Eastern Shore, fishing and boating are significant economic drivers, and fees may deter boaters, impacting local businesses that rely on boating tourism.
There may be alternative methods to control overcrowding, such as time-limited parking, reservation systems, or staggered launch times, which could be implemented without the need for fees.
As locals continue to struggle with abuse, overcrowding, and general rudeness associated with the “visitor” population, the cow has already left the barn. While banning tourists and northern fishermen is the optimal solution, that ain’t happening. It has become essential to strike a balance between maintaining access to the Eastern Shore and managing the impact of tourism.