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All About Striped Bass

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4/10/2014

Invasive Catfish Trigger Public Awareness Campaign in Maryland

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources today launched a statewide campaign to educate citizens about invasive Blue and Flathead Catfish their impact on native species and what anglers can do to help. Partners and stakeholders joined DNR staff at Smallwood State Park on the Potomac River for a catfish cooking demonstration and tasting to kick off the effort. "Increasing in population and range, both Blue and Flathead Catfish are now abundant in the Chesapeake Bay, threatening the natural food chain of our ecosystem and causing concern among fishery managers," said DNR Deputy Secretary Frank Dawson. DNR developed the outreach program to help anglers identify and catch these invasive species, understand the importance of regulations that prohibit their transport, and encourage anglers to keep the fish instead of releasing them alive. "Blue and Flathead Catfish are long-lived voracious predators. They grow to enormous size, have many offspring and dominate other fish populations wherever they take hold," said DNR Fisheries Service Director Tom O'Connell. "We want everyone to be aware of this significant problem and to know that it is illegal to transport these fish between bodies of water in Maryland." The Chesapeake Bay Program's Sustainable Fisheries Goal Implementation Team and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission have both formerly recognized the need to address the threat to native species by working to reduce invasive catfish densities and range. "Increasing public awareness of Blue and Flathead Catfish and the effects they have on the ecosystem is critical, so we're pleased that Maryland is taking important steps to help educate the public not only about those fish but about what they can do to help," said Peyton Robertson, director of the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, and Goal Implementation Team Chair. In addition to establishing more than 150 educational/cautionary signs at water access points and kiosks statewide, the State is escalating efforts to market Maryland's fledgling commercial catfish fishery. Catfish dishes from Chef Michael Stavlas of Hellas restaurant in Millersville and Executive Chef James Barrett of Azure in Annapolis provided attendees with a taste of this delicious invader. "The marketing of Blue Catfish is a win-win for Maryland's seafood industry. It promotes anglers catching - and restaurants serving - fish with no seasonal regulations, while reducing the pressure on native species," said Maryland Seafood Marketing Director Steve Vilnit. "These fish have already found their way to hundreds of area menus, and Whole Foods Market and the Clyde's restaurant chain have committed to add them to their offerings." “We are pleased to help restore balance in the Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem by selling wild Blue Catfish to institutions and restaurants at a competitive market price," said Wendy Stuart of the Wide Net Project, which also supports the effort. "We then take our commitment to the region a step further, with proceeds from the sales supporting local hunger relief and environmental education.” Blue and Flathead Catfish were introduced into the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem in the 1970s and 80s. Flatheads found ideal conditions in the OccoquanRiver, a small tidal Potomac tributary in Virginia and were recently identified in the non-tidal Potomac River near Williamsport. Flatheads have also become established in the Lower Susquehanna River. Blue Catfish are now in most of the major tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay as a result of their natural range expansion and possibly through illegal introductions by fishermen seeking to establish fisheries in other waters. There is no limit to the number of catfish an angler can catch and keep. The Maryland Department of the Environment advises limiting monthly Blue Catfish consumption for adults to: four fish under 15 inches; two between 15 and 24 inches; or one between 24 and 30 inches; and none over 30 inches due to the possibility of chemical accumulation in these species. The recommended monthly limit for children is: four under 15 inches; one from 15 to 24 inches; one fish every other month from 24 to 30 inches; and none over 30 inches. To report any suspicion of illegal transport of live invasive species in Maryland call 800-635-6124. The fine for breaking this law by moving live blue and flathead catfish is up to $1,000. For more information on invasive species in Maryland, visit dnr.maryland.gov/invasives.

4/9/2014

Closure of Bluefin Tuna Angling Category Southern Trophy Fishery on April 11, 2014

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Angling Category Fishery: Southern Area Trophy Fishery Closing April 11, 2014 The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) closes the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) Angling category fishery for large medium and giant "trophy" BFT (measuring 73" or greater) in the southern area effective 11:30 p.m. local time, Friday, April 11, 2014, through December 31, 2014. The southern area is the area south of 3918'N (off Great Egg Inlet, NJ) and includes the Gulf of Mexico. Information from the NMFS Automated Landings Reporting System and the North Carolina Tagging Program indicate that the codified southern trophy BFT quota (2.8 mt) has been taken. Retaining, possessing, or landing large medium or giant BFT south of 3918' N. lat. by persons aboard vessels permitted in the HMS Angling category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category (when fishing recreationally) must cease at 11:30 p.m. local time on April 11, 2014. The intent of this closure is to prevent any further overharvest of the Angling category southern area trophy BFT subquota. Catch-and-release fishing is permissible as described below. The annual Angling category trophy limit of one large medium or giant BFT per vessel remains in effect for vessels fishing in the northern area. This closure applies to vessels permitted in the HMS Angling category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category fishing in the southern area, which includes the Gulf of Mexico. Please note, while this inseason action prohibits retention of large medium and giant BFT by persons aboard HMS Charter/Headboat category vessels while fishing recreationally, commercial retention of large medium and giant BFT on HMS Charter/Headboat category vessels is currently prohibited because the General category is closed until June 1, 2014. For more information on BFT fishing regulations, including recreational size and retention limits, please go to hmspermits.noaa.gov. Fishermen may catch and release or tag and release BFT of all sizes, subject to the requirements of HMS catch-and-release and tag-and-release programs. NMFS regulations require that all BFT that are released be handled in a manner that will maximize their survival, and without removing the fish from the water. For additional information on safe handling, see the "Careful Catch and Release" brochure available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/. This notice is a courtesy to BFT fishery permit holders to help keep you informed about the fishery. For additional information, call (888) 872-8862 or (978) 281-9260, or go to hmspermits.noaa.gov. Official notice of Federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register.

4/7/2014

Governor O'Malley Lauds NRP Oyster Enforcement Efforts

Radar system, helicopter patrols deter poaching, protecting keystone species Governor Martin O'Malley today thanked the Maryland Natural Resources Police for its enforcement efforts during the six-month oyster season, which ended March 31. "When we began this large-scale oyster restoration initiative nearly four years ago, we promised to turn things around and do everything within our power to protect this vital species," said Governor O'Malley. "I want to thank our NRP officers - the men and women who continuously put their hearts into protecting our State's natural resources - for their hard work and dedication not only this past oyster season but every single day." Preliminary reports show that officers issued 92 citations for violations, the majority of them for harvesting undersized or unsorted oysters and harvesting in prohibited areas. The total is a 3-year low and the second lowest number of citations in five years. "Clearly our message is getting out: those who steal oysters from Maryland citizens and law-abiding watermen will be caught," said DNR Secretary Joe Gill. "Citizens are calling our tip line, and NRP officers and prosecutors are working as a team to thwart poaching in the Chesapeake Bay." Increased police presence did not, however, deter law-abiding watermen. Oyster harvests are on the rise, with watermen quickly reaching their daily catch limits during the early part of the season. Preliminary results suggest that the 2013-14 harvest season may have the highest landings since the 1980s, according to DNR Fisheries Service. Still poachers continued to test the system. In January, officers stopped a tractor-trailer on U.S. 50 in Easton that contained 187 bushels of undersized oysters, equivalent to the legal harvest of 16 watermen. One Kent County waterman was charged on six separate occasions with oyster violations; his license was revoked last week. The 2010 oyster recovery plan championed by Governor O'Malley provided a blueprint to rebuild Maryland's oyster population - and its vital ecological functions - and help the industry it once supported. The development of the Maritime Law Enforcement Information Network, MLEIN - Maryland's Homeland Security network of radar-and-cameras - has enhanced NRP's ability to monitor and track illegal activities. As part of the plan, NRP officers and State Police Aviation are also using helicopters as surveillance platforms. "MLEIN gives us sophisticated maritime intelligence capabilities by allowing us to keep watch over protected oyster beds from beyond the horizon. Additionally, State Police helicopters, equipped with advanced optics, enable officers to see for miles, even in the dark, without being detected," said Col. George F. Johnson IV, NRP superintendent. Last month, MLEIN was used in court for the first time to prove to a Somerset District judge that two watermen repeatedly entered a sanctuary and harvested oysters. Other cases are pending. Tougher penalties, authorized by the General Assembly, have created a "one and done" revocation process for the most egregious offenders and increased the penalty for engaging in commercial fishing with a suspended license, a revoked license or without a license, by establishing a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment for up to one year. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Office of the Attorney General and the District Court of Maryland have expanded a successful program highlighting natural resources cases, including fishing violations, to 18 of Maryland's 24 jurisdictions. Cases are heard on a specific day each month in the region where they occurred, and prosecuted by a designated regional State's Attorney. NRP is working to have natural resource dockets put in place in the remaining six areas - Frederick, Harford, Montgomery, Prince George's, and Washington counties, and Baltimore City - by 2015. "Officers, prosecutors and judges are doing their due diligence. Our oyster cases are receiving the attention they deserve," said Gill. "The result is a win for the Chesapeake Bay, a win for the people of Maryland, and a win for our commercial industry and its rich heritage."

New Fishing Reports ↓

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Great to Be Back on the Water

by David Drutz

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Potomac River Snakeheads

by James Berry

NEW TODAY

40 Inch Rockfish

by Jaida Snider

NEW TODAY

Deer Creek Golden Rainbow

by Ryan Chassereau

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Nice Start to the Season

by William Nowottnick

This Week's Events ↓
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4/25/2014

Maryland Commercial Lobster Management Meeting

26

4/26/2014

Outdoorsman Radio Marine Mammals

26

4/26/2014

Trout Closure Period 4 Ends

29

4/29/2014

Meeting of the Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission