Welcome to the Weekly Creel, a compilation of regional news and announcements for anglers and outdoor enthusiasts of the Chesapeake Bay region. Please email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to have your organization’s news item or event listing considered for next week’s column. Per usual, here are direct links to the lastest, local fishing reports from Reel Chesapeake, On The Water, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Anglers Sports Center, and FishTalk Magazine. The leading photograph (above): Patuxent River at Governor’s Bridge. Photo taken the morning of September 15th by yours truly.
Sportfishing Orgs Take NOAA to Task on Angler Surveying
On Monday, the nation’s leading recreational fishing and marine conservation organizations, including American Sportfishing Association, Coastal Conservation Assocation, Center for Sportfishing Policy, and Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, released a white paper (click link to download) on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) findings that its Marine Recreational Information Program – Fishing Effort Survey (MRIP-FES) may be overestimating recreational catch and effort data by 30 to 40 percent.
The Marine Recreational Information Program is a NOAA program that provides estimates of recreational fishing catches and trips that occur from Maine to Mississippi and Hawaii. These data are used to assess and manage state and federal fisheries in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Hawaii.
A recent pilot study (click link to download) conducted by NOAA found that MRIP-FES may be overestimating recreational catch and effort data significantly. This is the third time in 13 years serious issues have been uncovered in NOAA’s recreational fishery data program.
“The recreational fishing community’s confidence in federal fisheries data couldn’t be lower,” said Mike Leonard, vice president of government affairs for the American Sportfishing Association. “Achieving fisheries management that balances conservation and access, and that anglers can trust, requires fundamental changes to how these data are collected.
According to the official statement made jointly by the marine conservaton organizations:
“Many states have demonstrated the capability of developing survey programs to estimate recreational catch and effort data with more precision than MRIP. NOAA needs to work with all states to identify the best steps forward including the opportunity to transition some or all recreational data collection to the states and how to best provide support (i.e., funding) to states that lead data collection improvements.
“Some states may not be ready to transition to their own data collection program for estimates of effort. For those states, NOAA must collaborate with states and stakeholders on needed reforms to recreational data collection, many of which were identified in a recent National Academy of Sciences report. At the same time, NOAA must also pursue meaningful investments in the development and implementation of recreational management improvements.”
Maryland DNR Photo Contest Winners Announced
In the “news of the fun” category, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has announced the winners of the 20th annual Maryland Natural Resource Photo Contest, with the grand prize going to Dallin Johnson of Huntingtown for his photo of a gray tree frog. The photograph (and all category winners) were chosen from 1,300 entries.
This year’s grand prize package includes $500, a Maryland State Park and Trail Passport, free entry into next years contest, and five copies of the 2023 calendar with the winning image displayed on the cover. In addition to the overall grand prize winner, the judges selected first through third place winners in four seasonal categories—winter, spring, summer, and fall.
Still to be determined is the “fan favorite,” which will be chosen by popular opinion on the department’s Facebook page. Followers are encouraged to “like” and “share” their pick when the photos are posted on September 18, with votes taken through October 2. You can view all winning photographs here. Photograph by Dallin Johnson, courtesy Maryland DNR.
Deluge of Funding for Wetlands Restoration Announced
Earlier this week, the Department of the Interior announced that more than $50.6 million in funding has been approved by the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission. This funding provides the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners the ability to help conserve, restore, or enhance more than 106,600 acres of wetlands and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, shorebirds and other birds across the United States.
The Commission approved more than $39.4 million in North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants that will be matched by more than $74.1 million in partner funds. In addition, the Commission approved $11.24 million from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to conserve land on two national wildlife refuges (one in Idaho, the other in South Carolina). The acquisitions will expand public opportunities for hunting, fishing, wildlife observation, and outdoor recreational access.
“Each of us has a stake in the health of wildlife and wetlands across our country. But protecting them takes collaboration, communication and a steadfast commitment to the local communities who know and depend on these places,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “The funding will help support the Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful initiative, which is focused on pursuing locally led, collaborative and inclusive efforts to conserve, connect and restore America’s lands and waters.”
IGFA Billfish Campaign Reaches Milestone
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) announced a groundbreaking milestone in its recently-announced Billfish Research and Conservation Endowment Campaign. Just three months after the endowment’s announcement, the campaign has already secured its first $500,000 in cash, backed by support of 14 donors. As a result of this progress, the endowment will officially go into action beginning in October 2023 with a $1 million base. Additional match pledges received raise the total to more than $775,000 by September 2026, a testament to the dedication of billfish enthusiasts worldwide to safeguard these iconic species.
The IGFA’s Billfish Research and Conservation Endowment Campaign is a unique initiative designed to ensure the future of billfish by providing long-term funding solutions that support studies that augment data on billfish biology and ecology, implement international management measures to improve billfish abundance, and enhance recreational fisheries to promote sustainable sporting opportunities and economic growth.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Launches Stewardship Program
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is launching a comprehensive adult education and advocacy course in Washington, D.C., this fall and encourages area residents who care about clean water to register now.
On six consecutive Thursday nights starting October 5th, participants in the D.C. Metro Volunteers as Chesapeake Stewards (VoCieS) course will learn about local waterways, the challenges to restoring water quality, and how to get involved in protecting them.
Topics include getting to know your local watershed, Anacostia River restoration efforts, environmental justice, urban farming, agriculture and the federal Farm Bill, and how to be an effective advocate.
The D.C. Metro VoCieS program will feature expert speakers from several of the region’s leading environmental and conservation groups, including the Anacostia Watershed Society, the Potomac Conservancy, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and the D.C. Commission on Climate Change and Resilience.
Classes are scheduled from 6 pm to 8 pm every Thursday from October 5 to November 9. They will be held at REI Washington’s D.C. flagship store at 201 M St. NE. Registration is free, but you must register to join the class. For more information or to register, click here or contact Annabelle Harvey at email@example.com.
Chesapeake Legal Alliance Grades MD Counties on Floodplain Protections
Chesapeake Legal Alliance (CLA) has completed a survey of the 24 Maryland Counties’ (including Baltimore City) floodplain development ordinances to understand which jurisdictions lead the way in restricting potentially harmful development in floodplains. CLA grades the counties. According to the “report card:”
Baltimore County has the strictest ordinance, which bans all development in floodplains, save for a few low-impact exceptions. Eight counties have partial bans (labeled “Good” in the table, which you can click on to expand), which prohibit development in the floodplain unless (a) no alternative location exists or (b) the development is a necessary improvement to an existing structure. Fourteen counties (including Baltimore City) have less stringent floodplain development ordinances (labeled “Fair” in the table), which prohibit only unpermitted development in floodplains. These counties generally follow the Model Floodplain Management Ordinance published by the Maryland Department of the Environment. Most communities are required to update their local floodplain management regulations with the Model Ordinance, at the very least. And Worcester County has the weakest floodplain development ordinance. It does not prohibit unpermitted development in tidal flood zones and requires only that development proposals be designed with flood damage minimization in mind.
“With this information, we can streamline our advocacy efforts for local laws that prioritize floodplain conservation,” CLA states. “We know that healthier floodplains will bring resilience, health, and increased safety to our Bay communities.”
And that’s a wrap for this week’s Creel. If you have news to share, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.