Tag Archives: Maryland Department of Natural Resources

CARES Act Funding Available for Maryland Fishing Industry

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announces applications will be available Nov. 4 for economic relief funds for the commercial seafood industry through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), for those who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The application will be available to eligible members of the seafood industry on the Maryland OneStop website. The deadline to apply is Feb. 28, 2021. >click to read< 16:20

Maryland’s wild oyster harvest doubles from last year

Despite having fewer days to work, Maryland watermen harvested nearly twice as many wild oysters last season as they did the previous year, state officials report. Even so, a new study finds the state’s population of bivalves is in much better shape now than it was two years ago, with abundance up and overfishing down. As a result, state fisheries managers say they’re weighing whether to maintain catch restrictions put in place last season or relax them for the next wild harvest season, which normally begins Oct. 1. Data presented Monday night to the Department of Natural Resources’ Oyster Advisory Commission indicates that the overall abundance of adult, market-size oysters in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay has rebounded considerably since 2018 and is now at the fifth highest level since 1999. >click to read< 17:01

Female Blue Crab Population Up In Chesapeake Bay, Juvenile Numbers Low

Chesapeake Bay blue crab population appears to have a healthy number of spawning-age female crabs, according to the 2020 Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey. Maryland, Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission aims to conserve more than 70 million adult female crabs annually to ensure enough young crabs can be produced to sustain the population, a task that has now been achieved for the sixth consecutive year. This year’s survey estimates 141 million adult female crabs were conserved, which is above the long-term average of 126 million. The total amount of blue crab in the Chesapeake Bay in 2020 was 405 million crabs,,, >click to read< 14:56

Watermen protest on Manokin River and call for Oyster Sanctuary to be re-opened

Watermen gathered on the Manokin River Wednesday, calling for the oyster sanctuary to be opened up for harvesting. In 2019, the Manokin River was chosen as the 10th Chesapeake Bay tributary for large-scale oyster reef restoration. According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement calls for the restoration of the native oyster population in 10 tributaries by 2025. The Manokin River is the final tributary to be selected for this Chesapeake Bay Program partnership effort. Video, >click to read< 09:00

Maryland DNR rescues trapped whale off shore of Ocean City

A trapped whale was rescued recently in the waters off Ocean City, thanks to officers from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Sgt. Andrew Wilson said he and his crew were on patrol near Ocean City on Oct. 24 when suddenly, a transmission came through: a whale spotted offshore was stuck and unable to get free. Upon discovering the animal, officers noticed its tail was entangled by two buoys and a fishing gear line, according to Wilson. >Video, click to read< 13:09

Maryland crabbers rescue bald eagle

As they were crabbing in the early morning Wednesday, July 18, twin brothers Christopher and Russell Payne of Easton saw something unusual flopping around in the Tred Avon River off Oxford. The closer they edged their 27-foot workboat Twice the Payne, however, they realized a male bald eagle was struggling to swim. “He looked worn out,” Chris Payne said. “He was trying to swim towards shore about 100 to 200 yards in front of the Sunset Grill.” Russell retrieved the eagle with his crab net and eased him onto the stern of their boat. The brothers kept their distance while they called the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.“He was still skittish, and we didn’t want to get close to it. He was breathing like he had run a marathon,”>click to read<16:03

Blue crab population in Chesapeake Bay down for second year

The blue crab population in the Chesapeake Bay declined by nearly one-fifth for the second year in a row, with the male population hitting a trigger point that has lead to discussions over management, according to a new report. Experts say the overall stock remains healthy and decline is not cause for immediate concern, but that they are closely watching the numbers. The harsh winter coupled with a scarcity of young crabs last year has contributed to the low numbers in the beginning of the crab season,,, >click to read<13:04

Slithering from the bay to dinner tables far overseas

When onlookers see Jimmy Trossbach pull up pounds and pounds of eels from his pots from the water, they are amazed. “They get a little closer to stare at them,” Trossbach said. “Then they get scared and they back up” from the slimy, snake-like aquatic creatures. The most frequent comment he hears is that they didn’t know eels existed in the Chesapeake Bay, just like oysters, crabs, rockfish and other marine species with which Marylanders are familiar. A waterman who lives less than a mile away from where he was born in Drayden, Trossbach has spent many of his waking hours hunting for eels up and down the bay and its tributaries for the past 31 years. >click to read<16:33

Chesapeake Bay’s blue crabs made it through tough weather, survey finds

Despite the seemingly unending winter weather, Maryland found that the population of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay are “healthy and sustainable.” According to this year’s Blue Crab Winter Dredge Survey from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, even though around 35 percent of adult female blue crabs didn’t make it through the cold, icy weather, there was a marked increase of young crabs returning to the bay this year. “The population is showing more resiliency to those ups and downs and those stresses,” said Chris Moore, senior regional ecosystem scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. >click to read<23:36

Inviasve fish, Part 2 — the managing

Addressing invasive species issues requires dealing with two groups resistant to management — fish and people, so sound, scientific principles must be applied but psychology and human relations principles may be even more important. This column attempts to summarize hundreds of pages of articles and studies on blue catfish, flathead catfish and northern snakeheads. To repeat from Part 1, they are considered invasive to the greater Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries since they are “non-native species that cause harm to the economy, to the environment or human health” or “reproduce and expand beyond their initial areas of introduction.” click here to read the story 15:41

Maryland slashes oyster restoration acreage goal in Eastern Shore sanctuary

Maryland has decided to reduce the large-scale oyster restoration project goal in the Little Choptank River after boaters ran aground at another sanctuary and some of the man-made reefs there had to be rebuilt. The sanctuaries are among five planned to be built as part of a federal-state agreement to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.,, Skeptical of oyster restoration from the start, watermen have complained of trotlines getting stuck in new stone river bottoms and boats being damaged by oyster reef “high spots” in Harris Creek. A trotline is a long, heavy fishing line with short, baited lines suspended from it. They are often used to catch blue crabs in Maryland. click here to read the story 09:46

Maryland fishermen fight federal catfish regulations

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration has joined the cause and also sent a letter to UDSA Secretary Perdue, asking for “immediate regulatory relief” from the mandated inspection program for the wild-caught, U.S. catfish industry. “With the U.S. seafood trade deficit reaching historic proportions, strict harvest limits on most other wild seafood species, and traditional U.S. seafood jobs on the decline, the (Trump) Administration must provide every possible advantage to Americans seeking to invest in the business of wild-caught, domestic catfish,” Hogan wrote in the letter dated Tuesday, Aug. 8. Hogan wrote that American consumers increasingly are demanding wild, domestic seafood, and catfish is among that. The “seafood market for catfish in the Maryland/Virginia/D.C. region has grown from zero to millions of pounds sold in just a few years,” the letter reads. click here to read the story 08:30

Ocean City Inlet shoaling problem continues

Problems with sand plugging up the Ocean City Inlet have persisted for decades. “There’s billions of dollars (of state revenue) here,” said fisherman Mike Coppa, owner and operator of a West Ocean City trawling operation. “This is a huge problem. It’s the biggest problem we have.” Local commercial fishermen were the guests at an open forum hosted by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources at the Ocean City Marlin Club on Monday, March 27. The semi-annual gathering is held to discuss fisheries issues affecting local operations. Among the topics tossed around the room were several new draft regulations that may affect the take of specific species, the squeeze felt by local fishermen as restrictions are enacted to prevent overfishing in New England, pressures to maintain product quotas to retain valuable fishing permits and methods to attract new fishermen to the local commercial fishing district. continue reading the story here 16:14

Poor Striper Spawn Reported in Chesapeake

maryland-striper-index-2016The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced yesterday that the annual Juvenile Striped Bass Survey indicates that the 2016 striper spawn in the Chesapeake was well below average.  However, it also found one-year-old striped bass from last year’s very successful year-class in abundance. Striped bass spawning success is strongly affected by environmental conditions such as rainfall and varies greatly from year-to-year, with occasional large year-classes interspersed with average or below-average year-classes. “While this year’s striped bass index is disappointing, it is not a concern unless we observe poor spawning in multiple, consecutive years,” said Fishing and Boating Services Director David Blazer. Read the rest here 15:03

A Good News Report: Blue crab numbers rebounding

blue_crabBlue crab population numbers have grown for the second straight year, especially for female crabs, but their numbers are still below target levels, a Chesapeake Bay Program report released Thursday said. The report also found that crabs were not being overfished, with about 50 million pounds taken last year over 2014’s 35.2 million pounds — the lowest harvest in 25 years. It urged regulators to stay the course and maintain crab management regulations in order to maintain the progress. Female crabs rebounded from a depleted 68 million in 2014 to 194 million at the beginning of the 2016 crabbing season, and juvenile crabs, those that will grow to harvestable size by the fall and grow into large crabs by next season, were also holding steady. Read the rest here  07:59

Two Maryland fishermen banned from fishing for striped bass forever

636026244661894954-14835094354-773784d875-m-dThe Maryland Department of Natural Resources said that Michael D. Hayden Jr. and William J. Lednum, both of Tilghman Island, have received lifetime revocations of their striped bass privileges and have been suspended from all commercial fishing activity for the next year, followed by a four-year probationary period in all other fisheries. Their striped bass allocations are being returned to the commercial fishery allotment. In simpler terms, the two men were convicted of poaching and selling nearly $500,000 of striped bass over four years and have received lifetime bans from taking part in that fishery. Hayden and Lednum remain responsible for $498,000 in court-ordered restitution to the state of Maryland. Read the rest here 13:23:08

Smithsonian expert urges caution, patience on blue crab recovery

blue_crabThe results are in, 2016 is going to be a good year for blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay. An iconic figure embedded in the culture and cuisine of the Chesapeake Bay area, the blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) sustains the most profitable fishery in Maryland and supports thousands of fishermen and seafood businesses in Maryland and Virginia. Based on the annual winter survey conducted by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, there are nearly 35 percent more blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay this season than there were in 2015. That’s good news, especially on the heels of a 38 percent increase the previous year. But scientists say there is a cautionary tale in this rapid rise. (but, of course!) Read the rest here  16:29

Maryland scientists to conduct Chesapeake Bay oyster harvest study

Oyster-basketScientists say they have only a vague idea of how many oysters cover the reefs in the Chesapeake Bay, and can’t say how many can be harvested safely each year without threatening the future of an already decimated population.In the waning hours of its 2016 session, the Maryland General Assembly this week authorized a study that advocates say will not only provide a more precise count of the bivalves, but assess how quickly they are reproducing, how fast they are growing and how they are faring against disease. The oyster study stoked controversy in an hours-long hearing earlier this month. Many watermen said it would lead inevitably to restrictions on their harvests, and the state Department of Natural Resources initially opposed it because the legislation left the DNR out of the research. But in a compromise, lawmakers gave the department responsibility for the study, to be conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. A final report is due in December 2018. Read the rest here 19:12

Chesapeake Bay blue crab population grows 35 percent; DNR predicts ‘robust’ season

blue crabThere are more than 550 million blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay, an increase of more than a third over this time last year and one of the highest population counts of the past two decades. A winter dredging survey found the strongest growth in the populations of adult male crabs, which more than doubled. The number of spawning females, a key barometer for future population growth, nearly doubled but remained slightly below a target population count of 215 million.Maryland Department of Natural Resources officials, who released the survey results Tuesday, said the results bode well for local crab harvests. Read the rest here 15:53

Tyaskins man banned permanently from commercial fishing in Maryland

635899345770030546-Adam-AntesAdam Rodney Antes, 33, of Tyaskin, was found guilty of taking oysters from protected waters over a two year period, over harvesting and harvesting undersized oysters, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. He was assessed 60 points on his tidal fishing license, according to DNR, which is nearly double what is required to trigger the revocation hearing process. On Jan. 11, four days before he was given the revocation, Antes was charged with another eight counts of oyster poaching. Officers set up surveillance on the vessel, Kimberly Dawn, tied up near Bivalve Harbor in Wicomico County, after they acted on a tip. They saw piles of oysters on the boat’s deck, according to DNR. Read the rest here 16:27

New Maryland director of fisheries named

David Blazer, deputy director of harbor development for the Maryland Port Administration, takes over Sept. 21 as director of fisheries, DNR announced Wednesday.The announcement comes more than three months after the firing of Tom O’Connell, a veteran DNR employee who had been fisheries director since 2008. Hogan administration officials offered no explanation at the time for the removal of O’Connell and three other top DNR officials. While conservationists and even some commercial watermen had urged the Hogan administration to retain O’Connell, the head of the Maryland Watermen’s Association, Robert T. Brown Sr., had pressed for changes, reflecting watermen’s unhappiness with O’Malley administration fisheries policies. Read the rest here 09:41

The real culprit behind the war on watermen is pollution

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been accused of waging a “war on watermen,” and watermen are fighting back, seeking changes in the way the bay’s fisheries are being managed. They say their livelihoods are being undermined and their culture threatened. They are right about that, but they are directing their anger at the wrong people. The bay is choking on an overload of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment from a variety of pollution sources. The results of this over-enrichment are massive population explosions of algae that turn the water to pea soup from spring to fall. This cloudy water blocks sunlight from underwater grasses, reducing this critical habitat for crabs and juvenile fish to only 20 percent of historical coverage. Read the rest here 15:27

Fithian contests DNR statement on rockfish quota

“There’s no science behind it,” Fithian said of the reduction. “There are more fish of any size in the Chesapeake Bay than there have ever been in my lifetime.” Recent reductions in the crab harvest may be a direct reflection of this abundance, Fithian said. Rockfish are voracious predators, he said. He referred to a photo included with the commissioners’ letter to Gill, showing a large number of inch-long crabs in the stomach of a rockfish being cleaned. Read the rest here 10:22

Tilghman Island Man Sentenced in Fish Poaching Case – conspiring to violate the Lacey Act

U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett sentenced William J. Lednum, age 41, of Tilghman Island, today to a year and a day in prison, followed by six months of home detention as part of three years of supervised release, for conspiring to violate the Lacey Act and to defraud the United States through the illegal harvesting and sale of 185,925 pounds of striped bass. Read the rest here 19:39

Conservative regulations likely even though striped bass spawning stock is up

Last week the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced that the 2014 juvenile index which measures striped bass spawning success in Chesapeake Bay is 11.0, nearly equal to the 61-year average which is a big improvement from recent years,,,Striped bass from the Chesapeake Bay area migrate north to Rhode Island and as far as Maine,,, Read more here 19:14

Military-grade radar network watching for oyster poachers ‘It doesn’t sleep’

In the 1860s, poachers struck at night, sometimes in black-painted ships with darkened sails, outlaws raiding protected oyster beds. Lawmakers formed an Oyster Navy armed with cannons, but this police fleet was outgunned in the oyster wars of the 19th century. Today, cannons are out and military-grade radar is in to protect Chesapeake Bay oysters. Read the rest here 18:46

Hard choices for the Chesapeake

ASMFC SidebarThe current position of ASMFC for stripers is that “Projections of female SSB (spawning stock biomass) and fishing mortality suggest if the current fishing mortality rate (0.20) is maintained during 2013-2017, the probability of the stock being overfished is high and increases until 2015-2016, but declines thereafter. Read the rest here 11:31

Confirmation of Maryland Department of Natural Resources head postponed, bill killed – Confrontation with watermen’s association president alleged

A fisheries management bill was killed in the state legislature and a confirmation hearing held up following an accusation that the acting head of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources threatened the livelihood of the state’s watermen’s association president in Annapolis. Read [email protected]  06:47

Commercial watermen speak vehemently against fisheries bill

The bill, SB145, would define how the natural resources department opens and closes fishing seasons, changes catch limits and modifies where fishing can take place via public notice. Read [email protected]  17:27

Holiday season is time to crack down on oyster poaching in Chesapeake Bay

 The weeks leading to the holidays tend to be the most active for oyster poachers in the Chesapeake Bay, but the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and state police were hoping in recent days that new technology and harsher penalties would help them crack down on illegal oyster harvesting. Read [email protected]  13:10