Tidal & Coastal Fisheries Management In Maryland
Within the tidal portions of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, the Coastal Bays and Marylandís coastal waters there is a diverse range of resident and migratory finfish and shellfish species. Many of these species sustain valuable commercial and recreational fisheries. Tidal water fisheries management focuses on all tidal waters of the MD portion of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries (excluding the main stem Potomac River which is managed by the Potomac River Fisheries Commission in cooperation with Maryland DNR and Virginia Marine Resources Commission); MD Coastal Bays; and MDís coastal waters up to 3 miles offshore. Marylandís coastal bays are considered as a separate, unique ecosystem from the Chesapeake Bay and often has different resource issues. The objective for all areas is to maintain sustainable fisheries by using biological, technical, and socio-economic data to develop scientifically based management strategies for commercial, recreational, and ecologically important species.
Fishery Management Plans (FMP) are developed at the state, Bay and coastal level to ensure conservation and sustainability of a species. FMPs are an important tool for ensuring the protection of a species. An FMP includes biological, technical, and socio-economic information and identifies problems and management recommendations for addressing those problems. Traditionally, FMPs have had a single species perspective. Recognition of complex interactions among species and the environment has lead to a new initiative among Chesapeake Bay jurisdictions and facilitated by Maryland Sea Grant, to develop ecosystem-based fishery management plans.
Chesapeake Bay Management
Tidal fisheries management is complex because the physical boundaries of the Bay and coastal waters extend beyond political boundaries. The Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries encompass four separate jurisdictions. To enable comprehensive management of resident and migratory fin and shellfish, management strategies are developed in coordination with the District of Columbia, Potomac River Fisheries Commission, and the commonwealths of Pennsylvania and Virginia through the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP). This regional partnership provides a forum to specifically address issues relevant to effective management within the Bay.
Maryland Coastal Bays Management
A Comprehensive and Conservation Management Plan was adopted for Marylandís Coastal Bays in 1999. This plan included recommendations to address fishery issues specific to the Coastal Bays. Fishery issues were divided into three categories: finfish, shellfish and blue crabs. As a result of those recommendations two Fishery Management Plans have been created for the Coastal Bays: hard clam and blue crab. Originally, a separate Coastal Bays Finfish FMP was scheduled for development, but the Coastal Fishery Advisory Committee decided that the coastal management process already in effect was adequately protecting and managing finfish stocks that are important to the Coastal Bays.
Coastal Bays Hard Clam Management Update
Coastal Bays Blue Crab Management Update
Migratory Species Management
Many of the important finfish species found in Chesapeake Bay also migrate along the Atlantic coast. Due to their migratory nature, coastal management strategies need to be effectively coordinated. Two management councils were created to ensure proper coordination of coastal resources: the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC). Each council is made up of appointed representatives from the coastal states. Maryland is one of the fifteen coastal states participating in the commissions. Within the council structure, council members receive input on a species-by-species basis from technical committees, to ensure that proper management recommendations are being proposed. Participation in the commissions enables the states and the federal government to work cooperatively to sustain coastal fisheries.
Both the ASMFC and MAFMC prepare and adopt coastal FMPs that specify compliance requirements by the states, but include a range of management options to meet the requirements. The states have the primary role determining what options are best for their state and how the options will be implemented. The coastal plans include input from a species technical, advisory and scientific committee. Fisheries Service representatives serve on the policy, technical and advisory committees, which advises the councils. More detailed information on the function and role of the coastal councils can be found on the coastal management websites.
ASMFC is an interstate fishery commission, which enables fishery management coordination within state coastal waters 0-3 miles offshore. ASMFC through the 1993 Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Management Act is required to adopt Fishery Management Plans (FMPs) for coastal fisheries and ensure that the states are in compliance with the strategies of an adopted plan. If a state is found to be out of compliance, ASMFC has the authority to impose a fishing moratorium until compliance is achieved.
The Magnuson Act (1976) authorized the federal government to manage coastal fisheries 3-200 miles offshore and eight regional councils were created to enable comprehensive management. MAFMC is composed of representatives from NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD and VA. The councils are responsible for species that predominantly use offshore coastal waters. However, coastal migratory fish can overlap with inshore species that utilize both inshore and offshore habitats. The MAFMC and the ASMFC work jointly towards developing an FMP for those species. Recommendations are developed regarding gear type, seasons, quotas, licensing requirements, and reporting specifications.
For more information: