Governor O’Malley Names Larry Simns Admiral of the Chesapeake
Maryland Watermen’s Association founder celebrates 40 years of service
Governor Martin O’Malley has designated Larry Simns Admiral of the Chesapeake for his work as the chief advocate for Maryland’s watermen and their communities, and for his role in promoting changes to better ensure the sustainability of commercial fishing in the State. Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary John Griffin presented the award to Simns’ family, on January 18 at the 39th East Coast Commercial Fishermen’s and Aquaculture Trade Exposition in Ocean City.
“I want to congratulate Larry for his outstanding leadership and the Maryland Watermen’s Association on their 40-year anniversary,” said Governor O’Malley. “Larry has served as the voice of the men and women who work tirelessly to ensure that our local restaurants, markets and citizens have consistent and quality local seafood. He has been vital to the livelihood of our State’s watermen and we congratulate him for helping to promote responsible fishing practices and understanding the need for a balanced fishery that supports both the industry and our natural world.”
Simns, president and founder of the Maryland Watermen’s Association, has worked as a commercial waterman and charter boat operator for more than 60 years. He founded the Association in 1973, serving as president and laboring on behalf of Maryland watermen who make their living by their catch. A fourth generation waterman from Rock Hall, Simns’ lifelong love of the Chesapeake and working on the water began at the age of six, when he became employed by his great-grandfather, Captain Willy Stevens, to row the boat while Captain Willy ran his trot line.
“The Chesapeake Bay is part of who we are as Marylanders. It is part of our heritage, our culture and is our greatest natural resource. For forty years, Larry Simns has stood sentry for the watermen of the Chesapeake and has courageously championed their well-being and the health of the Bay’s fisheries,” said Senator Barbara Mikulski. “He has fought to preserve watermen’s traditions and their opportunity to work on the water, while also helping them to face the realities of the global economy and the myriad of environmental factors facing our beloved Bay. His work has not been easy and gratitude is not always forthcoming. That’s why I’m pleased to see him recognized for his extraordinary efforts to ensure watermen have been, and will continue to be, partners in preserving the Bay for us and future generations.”
Simns has provided watermen and their communities with critical leadership during the most difficult times and transitions including the striped bass population collapse and five-year harvest moratorium between 1985 and 1989, the decline and ongoing restoration of Maryland’s oyster fishery and resource and the near collapse of the blue crab fishery prior to 2008. He showed all Marylanders the essence of what watermen do and how their work impacts the people of Maryland, and he helped to establish Chesapeake Bay restoration measures. He has served on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, Maryland Tidal Fish Advisory Committee and numerous other committees, councils and boards.
He also helped create the Commercial Fishermen of America and serves on its Board of Directors, and, along with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, he helped initiate the Maryland Blue Crab Industry Management Design Team for the sustainability and future management of crabs in the Bay.
With the Chesapeake Conservancy, he helped establish the Capt. John Smith National Historic Water Trail and the Watermen Heritage Tourism Training Program. He was also instrumental in the formation of the Oyster Recovery Partnership and serves on its Board of Directors.
Simns has received numerous awards, citations, and proclamations from local and State agencies and organizations as well as civic clubs and the Maryland General Assembly.
He was recognized by National Fishermen magazine with the coveted and highly competitive Highliner Award which is given to the nation’s best commercial fishermen who are also industry and community leaders.
Now, in his seventies, Simns remains active in the Kent County Watermen’s Association, continues to serve as president of the Maryland Watermen’s Association and works as a crabber and charter boat captain. He also recently penned The Best of Times on the Chesapeake Bay – An Account of a Rock Hall Waterman, a collection of memories from his life on the water.
The Admiral of the Chesapeake is awarded by Maryland’s Governor to those who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to the conservation and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, its surrounding landscapes, and the life that inhabits them. This lifetime achievement award is the highest honor the Governor can bestow on an individual for environmental contributions, and is given on an as-merited basis.
“This recognition for working on behalf of watermen, the seafood industry and the Chesapeake Bay for 40 years represents, for me, the whole reason I stepped into the Maryland Watermen’s Association in the first place. And, I wouldn’t have traded it all for anything in the world,” said Simns.