CHESTERTOWN — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources was not responsible for reducing the limit on commercial rockfish harvest, DNR Secretary Joseph Gill said in a Dec. 8 letter to the Kent County Commissioners.


Responding to a Nov. 12 letter from the commissioners, Gill wrote that a 20.5 percent reduction in the striped bass harvest was imposed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, “in response to a decrease in the female spawning stock.” The letter said the ASMFC projected that the species will become overfished if the reduction is not instituted.


On its website, the ASMFC says the population of mature females has been in decline for 10 years.


Gill wrote, “Not only did the Department of Natural Resources not make this decision, we believe the science does not warrant the level of harvest reduction approved by ASMFC.” He said a state's failure to comply with the reduction can result in a closure of the state's fisheries by the U.S. secretary of commerce.


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