As a result of Senate Bill 268 (proposed in 2016 and
approved by the Governor, May 4, 2017), Atlantic cownose rays (Rhinoptera bonasus) were added to the
list of species for the development of a fishery management plan (Natural
Resource Article Section 4-215). A fishery management plan is a “document
that contains a systematic description of a given fishery and the objectives
and conservation and management measures for the fishery.” A fishery management plan serves as a
long-term framework for successfully managing a species. The purpose of the
cownose ray fishery management plan is to address the issues and concerns associated with its life
history, the status of the population in the Chesapeake Bay, sources of fishing
mortality and interactions with shellfish.
One of the first steps in the development of a fishery management plan is
assembling a workgroup. Based on the issues concerning cownose rays,
representatives for the workgroup were chosen from the recreational and
commercial fishing communities, academic and scientific institutions,
conservation groups, animal rights advocates and aquaculture industry. The
role of the workgroup is to:
The Cownose Ray Workgroup met in February 2018 to inform the
members about the fishery management plan process, to discuss the role of the workgroup, to provide
background information on cownose rays, to discuss member’s
issues and concerns, and to develop a work schedule.
The Department of Natural Resources, Fishing and Boating Services staff completed a draft biological background for the development of a fishery management plan at the end of June 2018. The draft underwent an in-house review and comments/edits were incorporated into a September draft. Another in-house review is in progress and once it is completed, a draft document will be reviewed by the Cownose Ray Workgroup. The biological background on cownose rays will provide the basis for identifying issues and concerns and begin the discussion on management strategies and actions.
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