NOAA recently hosted two habitat workshops in the Chesapeake Bay region. They discussed fish habitat issues and priorities with representatives from recreational angling organizations. This was a prime opportunity for the recreational community to provide their input into current and future habitat work in the Chesapeake Bay.
These workshops were a direct outcome of the 2018 National Recreational Fisheries Summit. At the summit, members of the recreational fishing community expressed a desire to be involved in collaborative habitat restoration projects. Participants included anglers from local fishing clubs, charter boat captains, state employees, and non-government organizations focused on the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.
The Maryland workshop was held on October 9 at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland. Below are a few key suggestions for NOAA that were highlighted by Maryland anglers:
- Scale up restoration activities: There are beneficial ongoing projects in the Maryland portion of the Bay, notably the largest oyster restoration effort of its kind. However, many challenges remain. Increasing the size and impact of the restoration activities to help improve Chesapeake Bay fish habitat and water quality.
- Increase communication and education: Use a variety of media that anglers use to highlight and bring attention to ongoing restoration activities (e.g., oyster restoration) and science in the Bay.
- Engage anglers in citizen science activities: Some recreational anglers are on the water almost daily, and can help collect needed data.
The Virginia workshop was held on October 15 at the Virginia Commonwealth University Rice Rivers Center in Charles City, Virginia. Many of the same ideas that were discussed in the Maryland workshop came up in Virginia as well. In addition, the Virginia participants highlighted:
- Increase restoration activities in shallow water: Tributaries offer a great opportunity for local anglers and residents to see habitat restoration firsthand, making them more likely to use and care about the project.
- Embrace new species and oyster reef technologies: Continue work on oyster reef restoration, and consider possibilities for other bivalves, such as mussels. Explore new oyster reef technologies that allow oysters to grow off the bottom.
- Youth education and outreach: Involve kids and families in outreach activities around habitat. Engaging the next generation that will continue the work to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay is vital.
The feedback we received at these workshops was incredibly valuable. We will work to incorporate the participants’ input and ideas into our existing programs and planning activities. The call for increased outreach and education presents a clear opportunity for greater collaboration with the recreational fishing community to engage the general public around our mutual priorities in the Chesapeake Bay.
For more information please contact:
Kevin Schabow, Acting Deputy Director NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, firstname.lastname@example.org
Emily Farr, Office of Habitat Conservation, email@example.com
Tim Sartwell, National Recreational Fisheries Initiative, firstname.lastname@example.org