Few other areas provide such rich opportunity for joining science and policy as fisheries — some of the nation's first laws dealt with the catching and use of fish.
In the Chesapeake region, as elsewhere, fisheries issues can be quite complex. The major commercial species of the Chesapeake — Eastern oyster, blue crab, striped bass — serve as a symbol of the Bay's health and productivity. These fisheries have sustained traditional communities, a powerful icon of the Chesapeake region, for centuries. Yet the Chesapeake's vital ecosystem has at times suffered from overuse and abuse. Many Bay species have experienced unpredictable highs and lows, and in some cases severe depletion due to overfishing, disease, and habitat destruction.
To help protect and manage the Bay's important fisheries, Maryland Sea Grant sponsors innovative research, drawing on the best scientific expertise available in the region. Beyond this, Sea Grant works to highlight the practical implications of fisheries research, and to strengthen the link between science and policy making.
Maryland Sea Grant provides key information to help resource managers and others gain the best possible understanding of such issues as habitat and stock dynamics and their relation to the Bay's ecosystem processes. A particular focus over the last several decades has been the Eastern oyster and blue crab. One of Maryland Sea Grant's first publications, Maryland's Oysters: Research and Management, detailed the management history and status of Maryland's oyster fishery as of the early 1980s.
More recently Maryland Sea Grant has cooperated with the Chesapeake Bay Commission, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office and other stakeholders to examine the current status of the Chesapeake Bay blue crab.
Several prominent reports recently emphasized the benefits of an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management. Decision-makers will increasingly look to highlight the interconnectedness of Bay issues. Ecosystem-based management (EBM) calls for taking into account the interactions between commercially targeted species and other non-targeted species; the interrelationships between natural and man-made elements of land, sea, and air; and the diverse social and economic drivers of resource management. With research and communications expertise in all of these areas, Maryland Sea Grant stands poised to be an important resource for implementing EBM in the Chesapeake.
Scientists and managers depend on the information gathered in tagging programs by anglers and commercial fishermen to create the knowledge base essential to understanding and restoring troubled fisheries. Many tagging programs offer monetary awards, trophies or other rewards for returning tags.
American Littoral Society
Distributes yellow spaghetti tags. Encourages a conservation ethic among anglers and provides scientific data on migration and growth. Striped bass, bluefish, summer flounder, winter flounder, tautog (blackfish), black sea bass, weakfish, and red drum comprise the bulk of species tagged.
Cooperative Game Fish Tagging Program National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
Southeast Fisheries Center
75 Virginia Beach Drive
Miami, Florida 33149
Uses steel dart tag and streamer to tag tuna, bullish, amberjack, and cobia.
AFTCO Manufacturing Company, Inc.
Encourages tag and release of yellowfin, bigeye, bluefin, and longfin albacore tuna. Distributes NMFS tags via the "Tag a Tuna for Tomorrow" and "Tag Flag" Tournaments.
Sportfishing, whether from shore or charter boat, can have a significant impact on fishing stocks. Because of concern about declining population size, more and more fishermen are practicing catch-and-release fishing. According to a report from the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, Fisheries of the United States 2004, 17,225 finfish were harvested and 30,226 were released in Maryland and Virginia. By releasing the fish they catch, anglers make a contribution toward conserving scarce resources for the future. To find out more about catching and releasing a fish to ensure that it will survive, visit the web sites below or order a video.
Maryland Recreational Fisheries - Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
Practicing Catch and Release - Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
This article covers the basics of catch-and-release fishing in fresh and salt water.
Keeping Score: Releasing Fish for Tomorrow (VHS, 20 min.) - In this video, fly fisherman and teacher Lefty Krey talks about catch-and-release fishing in the Chesapeake Bay and demonstrates proper techniques and equipment recreational fishermen can use.
Fishing for a Future: An Ethic for Ocean Anglers (VHS, 30 min.) - This video tells about the crusade for catch-and-release fishing along the Atlantic coast.