Micaela Hanson and Capital News Service — Maryland Gov. Wes Moore has asked the federal government to declare the increasing population of invasive fish species in the Chesapeake Bay an ongoing commercial fishery disaster.
“In recent years, the state has become increasingly concerned about the explosion in the abundance of invasive fish species in the Chesapeake Bay, including blue catfish, flathead catfish, and snakehead,” Moore said in a statement on Thursday. “It is critical to act now to mitigate the effects of these invasive species and to provide assistance to the commercial fishing industry.”
In a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, the governor said “blue catfish are a particular concern.”
“They are voracious eaters,” Moore wrote. “They consume other fish, crustaceans, and even other catfish. They out-compete the native species for both habitats and food and threaten key commercial fisheries including blue crab, striped bass, white perch, yellow perch, and American eel.”
For the fourth consecutive year, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources found in its 2022 annual survey that the native juvenile striped bass population in the Chesapeake Bay was below average.
Since 2012, the total catch of seven of Maryland’s commercial fishery species that share their habitat with invasive fish has declined between 27% and 91%, according to data from the state.
Although there is no direct scientific link between decreasing fish populations and the invasive species, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources still is concerned about the growing impact of these species.
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