Recreational and commercial fishermen can expect the opportunity to catch larger numbers of rockfish this year after the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission approved longer seasons and higher catch limits last week.
The ASMFC, which represents coastal state and federal fisheries management units and legislative and citizen interests, set guidelines that would allow Maryland to increase the recreational and charter-boat seasons from 93 to a maximum of 120 days.
The commercial catch could expand from 2.1 million to a maximum of 2.35 million pounds.
John R. Griffin, secretary of Maryland's Department of Natural Resources, said: "This plan continues our commitment to the protection and conservation of this important resource, while allowing all to enjoy the fruits of their sacrifices in a conservative, equitable manner."
The season and catch parameters are ceilings, and regulations controlling them could set limits at lower levels.
"Over the next month, the department will consult with user groups and other interested parties to determine the seasons and quotas for the 1997 striped bass fishery in Maryland," Griffin said.
Several groups of recreational fishermen had lobbied to have fishing for rockfish held at last year's levels, saying that rockfish had not recovered to the extent fisheries studies indicate.
According to DNR: "All available data shows that the striped bass fishery is being fished at a very conservative level. And the stock in the bay continues to grow at a rapid rate."
The juvenile index, a measure of annual spawning success, and spawning biomass are at unprecedented high levels, according to DNR.
Researchers at the University of California-Davis have developed a DNA-based test that apparently will serve as an early warning system against whirling disease in trout.
Whirling disease, which has devastated trout populations mostly areas of the Rocky Mountain west, is caused through infection by a microscopic parasite.
Ronald Hedrick and Karl Andree of the UC-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine isolated genes specific to the parasite, which allowed scientists to apply the DNA test.
"It gives fisheries managers an early warning system that should enable them to detect this disease early and help control its spread," said John Rogers, acting director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Pub Date: 1/26/97