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Fisheries Service is Scoping Changes to Commercial Striped Bass Fishery

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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


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 39°18'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 39°18' 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 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 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 Official notice of Federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register.


Atlantic Bluefin Tuna General Category Fishery Closed Friday, March 21, 2014

Actions being taken and important dates The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) closes the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) General category fishery for large medium and giant BFT (measuring 73 inches curved fork length or greater) effective 11:30 p.m. local time on March 21, 2014, until it reopens on June 1, 2014, for the June through August period. Based on the best available BFT landings information for the General category BFT fishery, NMFS has determined that the General category January BFT subquota of 23.1 mt has been reached. Although it is called the "January subquota," the regulations allow the January fishery to continue until the 23.1-mt subquota is reached, or March 31, whichever comes first. Retaining, possessing, or landing large medium or giant BFT by persons aboard vessels permitted in the Atlantic tunas General and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/ Headboat categories (while fishing commercially) must cease at 11:30 p.m. local time on March 21, 2014, through May 31, 2014. The intent of this closure is to prevent any further overharvest of the General category January BFT subquota. Go to to read entire NMFS announcement.


Emergency Regulation Suspending 3 Rod Limit Per Person In Tidal Waters Is Approved

The Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review Committee has approved the emergency regulation. There is no longer a 3 fishing rod limit per person in tidal waters. The emergency regulation is effective beginning March 20, 2014 and will remain in effect for 180 days. The Department is currently discussing recreational gear regulations, including rod limits, with the Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission, fishing tackle shop businesses, sports fishermen and other interested parties. Based upon this information obtained from outreach with the recreational fishing community over the coming weeks, a permanent regulation will be submitted later this year.

Fisheries Service is Scoping Changes to Commercial Striped Bass Fishery

Regulatory and Administrative Changes are on the Table

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is working to achieve a series of core management principals in each of its fisheries. These are:

  • Sustainability
  • Harvest
  • Accountability
  • Enforceability
  • Cost Recovery
  • Sustainability refers to the ability of the fishery to endure over time; to remain productive and viable both biologically, ecologically and economically. To ensure sustainability in Maryland’s commercial striped bass fishery, it is essential that all harvested striped bass are accurately accounted for through harvester and check station reports. The rules and requirements that DNR implements to ensure harvest accountability must be functionally enforceable with significant consequences for non-compliance. Finally, to be economically sustainable, the commercial fishery must support itself by ensuring that costs for management and enforcement measures are covered by the watermen themselves.

    The Department has determined that the commercial striped bass fishery in the Maryland portion of Chesapeake Bay is not currently meeting these management principals. In February of 2011, Maryland experienced significant levels of illegal commercial fishing activity for striped bass. More then 26,000 pounds of fish were confiscated from illegally set gill nets. DNR is also concerned that measures to ensure harvest accountability are not sufficient to prevent the filing of inaccurate reports by check stations or by individual fishermen. Furthermore, there remains substantial mis-use and illegal application of striped bass tags.

    As a result of this evaluation, the Department is planning to implement both regulatory and administrative changes to the commercial striped bass fishery. Ideas for changes in both of these categories are listed below. Given public scrutiny of the striped bass commercial gill net fishery, it is the Department’s goal to have regulations effective when the gill net season opens on December 1, 2011.

    The Department presented these ideas to Maryland’s Tidal and Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission in mid-July, and is now seeking broader public input through this web posting. Specifically, the Department is interested in learning about any concerns surrounding each idea; and about issues that we may have missed.

    Please submit comment by August 10, 2011. Comments may be submitted using the electronic email link on this website, by email directly to, by fax at 410-260-8310, or by mail to Striped Bass, Regulatory Staff, MDNR Fisheries Service, 580 Taylor Ave.B-2, Annapolis, MD 21401. Based on public comment received, a regulatory proposal will be prepared, and is scheduled to be submitted to the General Assembly’s Administrative, Executive, Legislative Review Committee (AELR) on August 17, 2011. A formal public comment period will follow submission of the regulatory proposal.

    Click here to view Regulatory and Administrative Ideas.

    To view the information presented to the DNR Striped Bass Industry Workgroup and to the Sport and Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commissions, please click here.

    Tags: Regulations, Striped Bass, Commercial