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Is Commercial Netting Sustainable?

Sports and conservation groups challenge harvest traditions

Gill netting is easily and often abused. Overseeing it requires so much Natural Resources staffing that it may no longer be a sustainable use of department dollars or staff.

Illegal commercial gill netting (and consequently, some arrests) continues despite all the attention net-fishing has been drawing on the water and in the news. Now the Coastal Conservation Association (ccamd.com) has asked Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary John Griffin to re-evaluate both commercial gill net operations and pound net fisheries.
    Gill netting, currently and historically, is an easily and often abused activity, the nationwide marine resources advocacy argues. Overseeing it requires so much Natural Resources staffing that it may no longer be a sustainable use of department dollars or staff.
    By-catch is the association’s concern with pound net, which are stretched between poles in shallow water and left in place. In the spring pound nets catch not only targeted species, such as white perch, but also a lot of spawning rockfish, shad and herring. These species suffer a high mortality rate when trapped by these nets at a particularly critical time. The Maryland Saltwater Sport Fishing Association (mssa.net) has joined the Coastal Conservation Association in asking the department to analyze the full effect of that mortality.
    In the meantime, the on-line Grass Roots Petition to Ban Gill Nets continues to accumulate thousands of signatures: http://www.petitiononline.com/yrrejmaj.