Maryland’s two largest recreational fishing groups are calling on the Department of Natural Resources to reevaluate the use of commercial striped bass nets.
Coastal Conservation Association Maryland Friday afternoon called on DNR to expand its study of gill nets, which were used last month by poachers to capture 12.6 tons of striped bass, to include pound nets.
In addition, CCAMD chairman Ed Liccione requested increased accountability measures for recreational anglers, urging Natural Resources Police officers to check anglers’ catches when they return to piers and marinas.
Liccione said gill and pound nets required “extreme levels of law enforcement” and extra expense for the cash-strapped agency.
Pound nets, he said, may cause significantly higher mortality in striped bass, river herring, American shad and hickory shad.
Gill nets drift with the tide and entrap fish in the mesh openings. Because the size of the fish caught is dictated by the size of the mesh openings, biologists consider it a very clean fishery with few discards. Anchored gill nets, which are illegal in Maryland and were used by poachers, are anchored at the bottom and difficult to detect.
Pound nets consist of a series of staked nets that direct fish away from shore and toward the impoundment and a mesh crib-like area that entraps the fish. Pound net sites must be registered with the state.
Earlier this week, the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen’s Association called on DNR to ban all gill nets but made no mention of pound nets.
An online petition to ban all nets started by a Baltimore businessman has collected more than 5,600 signatures from people around the country.
DNR Secretary John Griffin has promised a full review of gill nets that involves all stakeholder groups. The gill net season is set to reopen in December.