Maryland Fishing Conservation Issues
The problem: Some 40 percent of the nation's waterways are unsuitable for
fishing. Commercial overfishing, habitat loss, and pollution threaten fish
Our goal: Healthy and abundant fish populations.
We work with and support a variety of organizations whose goal is to protect our waterways and maintain a healthy recreational fishery. Some of these organizations and their projects are listed below. Get involved; donate your time or money to these conservation efforts. You can also support
local legislation that will protect our natural resources and oppose or veto legislation that will hurt them.
ASA's FishAmerica Foundation works with industry members and local
grassroots organizations to improve fish habitat and water quality one
stretch of shoreline at a time.
Izaak Walton's League Action Network Find out about your local and Federal legislators
Effective January 26, 2009 the new recreational yellow perch regulation states a 9 inch minimum and 10 fish creel limit statewide.
Next stop: Ocean floor
N.Y. subway cars dropped in Md. waters to form reefs
By Candus Thomson - Baltimore Sun Reporter
ABOARD THE YNOT MABEL - A massive front-end loader wrestled more than 40 stainless steel New York City subway cars off a barge yesterday, swinging them one by one over the gray, choppy water before releasing them with a splash.
Some of the cars lingered briefly on the surface before heading for the ocean bottom 85 feet below. Others rolled on their side, emitting hisses as water rushed in and air escaped, creating tiny geysers like whales exhaling.
One by one, they became Maryland's most-ambitious offshore artificial reef project to create homes for fish and an underwater playground for divers.
Jack Power, a retired Baltimore businessman and passionate fisherman, is the project's No. 1 patron. He spent $25,000 to send the cars beneath the seas 19 miles off Ocean City, and he is ready to drop another $25,000.
"Look at our children," Power said to his wife, Sue, as he snapped photos and she clapped. "This is so exciting."
For the Ocean City Reef Foundation and local officials, the deployment of the retired subway cars at a once-popular fishing spot known as the "Jackspot" has been nearly a decade in the making. False starts and modest financial contributions limited efforts to a series of much smaller projects.
But when the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority offered a barge-load of cars and Power wrote a check, things clicked into place.
"We did this to sort of kick this thing off and get it into high gear," said Power as he gripped the railing of the cabin cruiser idling near the subway barge. "How many times can you invest in something and be absolutely sure it's going to pay off?"
The return, say charter captains and state fisheries biologists, is a stainless steel foundation that will attract sea bass, tautog and smaller fish, and sea creatures that serve as a food source for larger fish. Over time, as the metal disintegrates, coral will build up, re-creating what made the Jackspot a hot spot decades ago.
"In a year, there will be so many mussels, it will be insane. They'll be 1 foot thick," said Capt. Monty Hawkins.
Divers want to visit the site next week to take baseline photos and videos and then return every month to show the progress.
Maryland expects to receive 630 New York subway cars over the next three years, which will be dropped in three locations in addition to the Jackspot.
Ocean City Mayor Richard W. Meehan said offshore fishing opportunities bring vacationers who are "a very important part of our economic base. I think we're going to see an almost immediate benefit from this."
Transporting each barge-load of 40-plus cars costs $25,000, which puts the Ocean City Reef Foundation in constant fundraising mode.
Power, 63, who retired to a waterfront home in southern Anne Arundel County, bought the first barge-load in honor of his wife. He is picking up the bill on the next one to honor his daughter, Lindsey, who lives in New York and commutes by subway.
The Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative, a nonprofit group of anglers, conservationists and corporations that has built several reefs in the Chesapeake Bay over the past two years, has agreed to pay for another barge-load.
"See," Power said, "if everybody kicks in, all of the sudden - bang! - you've got something big."
Michael Zacchea, assistant chief operations officer for New York's MTA, said that he has more requests from Eastern Seaboard states than he has subway cars.
"It's a good problem to have," he said.
Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland are part of a rotation that will include states farther south and New York, once it clears regulatory hurdles.
The cars, built in the mid- to late 1960s, weigh 18 tons each and are 60 feet long. It takes MTA workers 135 hours on each car to remove materials that could break free or contaminate the water.
As the subway cars settled in their new home, boat captains were already marking on their sonar screens the arrival of fish, perhaps in search of new digs.
Power smiled. "The day we catch a white marlin and a tuna on it, that'll be the day we'll know this work was worth it."
Anglers Encouraged To Participate In Annual Striped Bass Survey
Data from Anglers Helps Guide Striped Bass Management
Maryland Department of Natural Resources encourages anglers to get involved in striped bass management this spring by participating in the Maryland Fisheries Service’s annual striped bass volunteer angler survey.
“Data volunteered by recreational anglers provides crucial information about our state’s most popular fish, that would otherwise be unavailable to DNR,” said Tom O’Connell, Fisheries Service Director. “We greatly appreciate the efforts of participating anglers, as this information is used to guide management decisions to ensure a sustainably managed striped bass fishery.”
Data collected through DNR’s Striped Bass Volunteer Angler Survey is crucial in the estimation of total harvest, discards, and other important information such as sex ratios and age structure of the population. DNR uses the data when developing creel limits and overall strategy for striped bass management.
DNR’s Fisheries Service will conduct a telephone survey of randomly selected Bay Sport Fish License holders to estimate the number of anglers participating in the spring striped bass season. DNR Fisheries biologists will also visit popular public-access boat ramps and marinas to briefly interview recreational anglers and request permission to examine their catch.
Anglers may participate in the Striped Bass Volunteer Angler Survey by entering information about their catch on DNR’s website at
http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/survey/sbsurveyintro.html Information and survey packets are also available by mail, through contacting Eric Durell at 1-877-620-8DNR, ext. 8308 or email@example.com.
Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative Celebrates 1 Year Anniversary
Innovative Public-Private Partnership Creates Fish Habitat
ANNAPOLIS, MD - The Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative (MARI) recently celebrated its one year anniversary. During MARI's first year, the coalition of more than 50 conservation, businesses, and government partners successfully raised more than $1.4 million to support the creation and monitoring of artificial reefs for fish habitat throughout Maryland's waters.
"Creating fish habitat not only helps to restore the Chesapeake Bay, but also benefits recreational opportunities and our local economy," said Bill Goldsborough, Maryland Artificial Reef Committee Chairman and Chesapeake Bay Foundation Fisheries Program Director.
"MARI's efforts this past year placed more artificial reef base material to improve marine habitat than in the previous decade," said DNR Secretary John R. Griffin. "We are thankful for the leadership and support of so many private businesses and conservation organizations partnering together on this effort."
The creation of three-dimensional reefs emulates historic vibrant marine communities, such as oyster beds and coral reefs, critical to supporting diverse species of fish that were once prolific in the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland's Atlantic coast. Collaborating with the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project, the MARI deployed more than 50,000 tons of concrete material from the old Woodrow Wilson Bridge to create four major reef sites: Point No Point off St. Mary's County; Cedar Point at the mouth of the Patuxent River; Tangier Sound off Crisfield; and the Gooses Reef just west of the Little Choptank River. Monitoring by divers and fishery biologists indicates that invertebrate communities and multiple species of fish have started to inhabit all four of the reef sites.
"Recreational anglers, charter boat captains and fishing guides have already reported catching striped bass, bluefish and croakers at Point No Point and other reef sites, which is a testament to the ecological and economic benefits of MARI," said Capt. C.D. Dollar, a member of the state's Artificial Reef Committee and a Chesapeake Bay fishing guide. "In a relatively short time, these reefs are quickly providing much needed quality fish habitat, and will only improve with time."
During its first year the MARI also created a science-based artificial reef plan for Maryland's waters to guide future efforts. Additionally, an Artificial Reef Committee was established to advise the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and make recommendations for artificial reef priorities and funding expenditures.
Over the next year, MARI partners look forward to their first major artificial reef projects off Maryland's Atlantic coast, including up to five reef sites off Ocean City, Md. Using a new documentary and promotional DVD created by world-renown underwater filmmaker, Nick Caloyianis, MARI partners will continue to raise public awareness and financial donations to support fish habitat restoration through artificial reefs.
More than 50 partnering entities including the Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Legislative Sportsman's Foundation and Caucus, Honeywell, Inc., Dominion Energy, Mitchell-Petersen Foundation, Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project, Shell Oil, and British Petroleum, as well as conservation organizations, businesses, foundations, outdoor recreational organizations, and countless individuals have provided resources to make this program possible.
Individuals can help with reef projects across the State by "buying a ton" via a tax-deductible donation to the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative. The Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative was created in early 2007 to raise funds to facilitate development of marine habitat enhancement projects. For more information visit www.ccamd.org/MARI/MARI_home.htm
Or to make a donation visit Buy A Ton- Click to make your tax-deductible contribution to MARI.
Blue Ocean Institute GUIDE TO OCEAN FRIENDLY SEAFOOD
Menhaden Board Approves Cap on Reduction Industry Harvest
Maryland Plays Key Role in Outcome
from The Coastal Conservation Association Maryland (CCA MD)
Congratulations. We did it. After rejecting Omega Protein's last minute proposed compromise of a voluntary cap of 131,000 metric tons of menhaden harvest from Bay waters, the Menhaden Management Board approved Addendum II with the options recommended by Menhaden Matter, a cooperative effort between your CCA, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the National Coalition for Marine Conservation, and Environmental Defense. The motion that passed was put forward by Howard King, DNR's Fisheries Service Director and a Maryland Commissioner to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). Maryland's delegation was very effective in persuading the Board to reject Omega Protein's proposal in favor of a responsible cap.
Beginning in 2006, Virginia will be required to impose a cap of 105,800 metric tons for menhaden harvest in the Bay or face having the ASMFC declare them out of compliance, which could result in the Secretary of Commerce closing the fishery. The cap represents the reduction industry's average for the last 5 years and will remain in effect for 5 years.
We want you to know that we are aware that many of you don't think a cap goes far enough. We agree. It is important to remember that this cap was approved by a Board made up of the same Commissioners from each Atlantic state that manage other fish species. Four years ago, your CCA played a major role in making sure of this. Before 2001, the Menhaden Management Board was unlike the rest. It had seats set aside for industry representatives that virtually gave them control of menhaden management, a classic fox guarding the hen house arrangement. We said then that it would pave the way for meaningful management of menhaden, and it has (click here for CCA's April 2001 press release).
Today's action also calls for research to determine if localized depletion is occurring and if so, what effects that has on the ecosystem. Should this research support the claim of localized depletion in the Bay, we will then be in a better position to ask for harvest restrictions that take into account menhaden's role as forage and as a filter feeder. This cap will prevent the expansion of the the reduction industry's Bay fishery while the research takes place.
Thanks for being a part of this, and remember, this is just another step towards responsible menhaden management. We are not through with menhaden.
We have also introduced a new T-shirt (above on the right) and Bumper Sticker that we are selling via our website to help promote our Save Our Stripers campaign. Wear one of these beautiful t-shirts or put a bumper sticker on your vehicle to help promote the conservation of Atlantic Menhaden and curtail the commercial fishing of Menhaden out of Reedville, VA.
To view the MdAngler.net store click below
OPEN FORUM TO MARYLAND ANGLERS
The subject of fishing has been seen in headlines with increasing frequency recently. Unfortunately, most of the news has not been good. We have heard that big ocean fish like tuna and flounder have been reduced to ten percent of their historical numbers. There is news lately of the very real danger that the white marlin will be listed as a threatened or endangered species, which would give more than a few charter captains and avid anglers in Maryland some spare time every August. In the Chesapeake Bay, the blue crab harvest is near a record low and oysters are all but gone.
These issues are not confined to Maryland, the East Coast or the Atlantic Ocean. From places around the world we hear terms like “population crash,” “fishing down the food chain,” and “habitat destruction.” While these terms make the kind of eye-catching headlines that instill within each of us that sense of fear and loathing we are used to feeling when we see the daily news, I suspect that a small percentage of the public fully understands what they mean. I also suspect that even fewer understand the implications of these issues, and fewer still are willing to take action to make things better.
In the United States, commercial and recreational fishing regulations are made by each state, as well as six federal agencies, including the National Marine Fisheries Service. The policies of this myriad of governing agencies have been overwhelmingly slanted toward the short-term gains of the commercial fishing industry. The results have been devastating. For example, in New England, under management plans created by the New England Fisheries Management Council, the cod population has plummeted. These management plans disregarded research that predicted (and which irresponsible regulations eventually proved) that the cod fishery was in serious trouble and favored regulations in line with the wishes of the powerful commercial fishing lobby.
Commercial fishing outfits are heavily invested in their trade, and the best method of increasing profits is to get the most fish in the boat in the shortest period of time. Because many of these outfits have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment and boats, they are often vehemently opposed to any regulation that decreases their profits. Their opponents are often the scientists and conservation groups that study the impacts of overfishing, and unfortunately, these groups can rarely muster even a fraction of the lobbying power of the commercial fishing industry. The policies that arise are those that allow overfishing, habitat destruction, and depleted fish populations.
Recreational fishing also can be detrimental to fish populations. As the number of recreational anglers grows, pressure on fisheries increases. The main difference is that recreational anglers have a history of working with regulators to maintain and rehabilitate fish populations. The amazing recovery of rockfish (striped bass) in the Chesapeake Bay is a great example of recreational anglers taking the lead and working with commercial fishing interests to save a fishery. Recreational anglers have voluntarily employed catch-and-release tactics for big game fish like the white marlin, as well as other species. It was a recreational fisherman who filed suit against the state of Maryland and forced the state to impose a moratorium on shad fishing in state waters and pass sweeping fish passage measures in the legislature. Anyone who has been to the lower Susquehanna River in April knows how effective that one lawsuit has been in reviving the wiped-out shad population.
Fishing, however, is not the only activity that hurts fish populations. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s “State of the Bay” report shows that despite multistate efforts, the health of the bay is not improving. Nutrients, toxic chemicals, and sediment all continue to find their way into the Chesapeake Bay, and the coastal bays are not faring much better. Despite the fact that we have proven scientific evidence pointing to the sources of these problems, powerful industry lobbies work tirelessly to persuade lawmakers to implement policies that favor industry bottom lines over the lines held by anglers. One disheartening example is that while pregnant women are being told not to eat tuna because of high mercury levels, the federal government is pushing for rules that allow power plants to spew more nerve toxin into the environment. Also, there are efforts under way in the current administration to reduce the scope and effectiveness of the Clean Water Act, which is the framework for water pollution laws across the country. It is easy to understand that if this crucial law is weakened, the consequences will be detrimental to water quality across the country.
It all sounds overwhelming, and it is pretty easy to throw up your hands and say that there is nothing you can do. There are many excuses for doing nothing, such as “I don’t have time,” I don’t know what to do,” or “Anything I do wouldn’t make a difference.” The truth is there are many effective things that you can do. The question is how important to you is something that gets you out of the comfort of your bed at 5:30 on a Sunday morning to stand in a cold rain for five or six hours? Also, do you want to be able to enjoy the privilege of fishing when you are older, or sit around talking about “the good old days?” Take some time to send a letter or e-mail to your congressman or the governor. Tell them that you are an angler and you would like to see policies that support sustainable recreational fishing. Research and support groups like the Coastal Conservation Association, Trout Unlimited, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation or local watershed groups. The amazing rebound of rockfish and shad are indisputable proof that recreational anglers have a voice that can be heard.
Another way to cheaply and easily take action is to educate yourself about how you impact the bay and your watershed. The Maryland Department of the Environment and the Department of Natural Resources have information available showing simple ways to reduce impacts on our water resources. To assist people in making educated choices about what types of fish are in decline, the National Audubon Society maintains a website evaluating worldwide fishing practices and sustainability for most fish found in grocery stores and restaurants. Simple things can help, like having the soil conservation service test your soil before you fertilize, or not supporting the worst offenders in the commercial fishing industry by avoiding orange roughy and swordfish. Small sacrifices must be made if we want to maintain and improve our fisheries. It is our responsibility as fishermen and women to ensure that our favorite pastime is not destroyed.
-Brian Bartell is an environmental consultant in Maryland who deals primarily with water resource protection issues.
Contacts and Sources:
U.S Secretary of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20230
· National Legislative Directories
· Maryland National Directory:
· Maryland State Legislative Directory
· Maryland Department of the Environment
· Maryland Department of Natural Resources
· Audubon “Seafood Guide”
The Chesapeake Bay has some of the finest
fishing on the East Coast. In Maryland and Virginia,
greater than 414, 000 anglers fish the Chesapeake
Bay and its tidal tributaries from late March
through November, this period includes the
entire breeding season for osprey (March-
August). The Chesapeake Bay supports the
the largest nesting population of osprey in the
world, with approximately 3,600 breeding pairs
within the Bay. While anglers are fishing the Bay,
these magnificent birds fly, build nests, and
raise their young.
Ospreys are very tolerant of humans and will
fish and nest close to populated communities.
They often line their nests with a variety of
natural and manmade materials. Some of the
manmade materials ospreys pick up include
paper, plastic rope and fishing line. Some of
these prove to be deadly.
Osprey young have been found in their nests
entangled in fishing line or impaled with fishing
hooks. Adults have also been spotted entangled
in line. Legs, wings and beaks can become so
tangled that the bird will not be able stand, fly
or eat. Conservative estimates indicate that 5-
10% of nests have fishing line present.
You can help. Anglers can reduce the injuries
or deaths to ospreys and other wildlife simply
by properly discarding fishing line and hooks.
Retrieve broken lines, lures and hooks and
deposit them in trash containers or take them
with you. Help protect Chesapeake Bay
The potential for entanglement is high.
In Maryland there are:
80, 896 boats registered with MD Chesapeake Bay Sport Fishing and VA Saltwater licenses
414,805 licensed anglers
115 anglers to each breeding pair or
58 anglers to each individual breeding osprey
Note: Angler to osprey ratios should be considered
higher than those listed above because: boats
registered with the Maryland Chesapeake Bay
Sport fishing and Virginia Salwater license cover more than one
person on those vessels registered; numbers do not include
I'm an Ethical Angler. I:
Avoid spilling and never dump gasoline, oil or other pollutants - on land or in the water.
Never leave trash behind, including worn line, old hooks and bait, and practice recycling.
Gain knowledge about Aquatic Nuisance Species and how to help prevent their spread.
Learn and abide by all fishing regulations and boating laws.
Educate fellow anglers and especially new participants about fishing ethics.
Respect private property and the rights of other anglers and outdoor
Save fish for tomorrow by practicing conservation and learning proper catch-and-release techniques.
Click the image above to receive this free Ethical Angler sticker.
Maryland DNR Fisheries Website
Chesapeake Bay Foundation
Save Our Streams Program
The White Marlin Open
The Billfish Foundation
Maryland Trout Unlimited (MDTU)
The National Capital Chapter of Trout Unlimited
The National Coalition For Marine Conservation
NOAA Fisheries Headquarters
Coastal Conservation Association
The Izaak Walton League of America
The Maryland Geological Society
American Fisheries Society
Water Works Wonders
The American Sportfishing Association
Join the Sierra Club
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