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Maryland Crab Pilot Aims to Modernize Reporting

Maryland Blue Crab

Photo by: John Starmer/Marine Photobank

When summer time rolls around on the Chesapeake Bay, watermen, tourists and locals alike start thinking about one thing: Blue Crabs. Will there be enough? How much will they cost? How long will the season last?

Past years have seen seasons cut short based on regulations that conservatively lower scientifically determined catch limits as a precautionary management measure, because real-time harvest data is limited.  The process for counting how many crabs have been caught – and by whom – has been problematic, relying on a paper-based system that is time-consuming and too slow to allow meaningful adjustments to catch limits midseason. This year, both watermen and state officials agreed that a new system, using modern and faster technologies, was needed. Read More »

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Maryland Watermen Keep Open Mind Towards Future and Catch Shares

Kate Culzoni speaks to watermen at the East Coast Commercial Fishermen's & Aquaculture Trade Exposition in Ocean City, Maryland.

Kate Culzoni speaks to watermen at the East Coast Commercial Fishermen's & Aquaculture Trade Exposition in Ocean City, Maryland.

Over a half a foot of snow couldn’t keep watermen away from the East Coast Commercial Fishermen's & Aquaculture Trade Exposition in Ocean City, Maryland this past weekend.  The state’s biggest fishing association, the Maryland Watermen’s Association, organized a weekend full of events and seminars highlighting issues on watermen’s minds.  Environmental Defense Fund had the honor of participating in this event by organizing a seminar called “Co-Managing the Future of Your Fishery – Experiences and Lessons from Fishermen across the Country.” 

To bring some context to the subject, we brought in fishermen from around the nation including the President and Treasurer of the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders' Alliance, David Krebs and Buddy Guindon.  We also tapped the expertise of Alaska halibut fisherman, Mark Lundsten and New England fisherman and catch shares expert, Dick Allen.  These fishermen led a panel discussion on their experiences and lessons going from traditional fisheries management systems to catch shares management.   

Gulf fishermen and Maryland watermen talk at the East Coast Commercial Fishermen's & Aquaculture Trade Exposition in Ocean City, Maryland.

Gulf fishermen and Maryland watermen talk at the East Coast Commercial Fishermen's & Aquaculture Trade Exposition in Ocean City, Maryland.

The President of the Maryland Watermen’s Association, Larry Simns, opened the session requesting something from the 50 or so watermen in the audience.  “Whether you are for or against catch shares, we all need to keep an open mind and see how at least parts of this system can help the future of our fisheries,” Simns stated. 

Maryland watermen asked many questions and raised concerns about catch shares but repeatedly said they were maintaining an open mind about the solutions that catch shares can offer to fisheries.

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