Calling yellow perch “the people’s fish,” the Coastal Conservation Association Maryland is calling upon the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to manage yellow perch in a way that will benefit all Maryland citizens. The stance was adopted Tuesday by CCA MD’s Fisheries Committee and will be communicated to DNR during a Monday, July 28, meeting reviewing the Yellow Perch Fishery Management Plan (YPFMP).
“The goal of the YPFMP must focus on all citizens, not any specific group,” Ken Hastings, CCA MD yellow perch coordinator, said. “Yellow perch are the first fish to come into streams in the Chesapeake watershed. Families take their kids fishing for yellow perch, and many kids learn how to fish chasing yellow perch.”
When a new YPFMP is written, CCA MD is calling for a focus on:
• High abundance of yellow perch,
• Regulations that are enforceable and legally defensible,
• A full age structure so that older, larger fish will be available as well as young fish, and
• As broad a geographic distribution of yellow perch as possible.
“There used to be a viable yellow perch population in almost all streams up and down the Bay,” Hasting said. “Now some of those streams have zero yellow perch, and we are hearing hardly any reports of trophy fish anywhere in the watersheds. Loss of this valuable resource is a blow to all Maryland families. DNR has the responsibility to develop a YPFMP that restores yellow perch for all citizens— young, old, and in between.”
CCA MD believes that if commercial and recreational interests can’t both be served under the new plan, recreational concerns must come first.
“Frankly, there are less than 50 commercial fishermen harvesting yellow perch in our region, and most of the harvested fish go to out-of-state consumers,” Hastings said. “That number is no where near the number of families awaiting the return of yellow perch each spring.”
CCA MD’s Fisheries Committee indicated that if the new YPFMP and other management steps can’t restore yellow perch, gamefish status should be considered for yellow perch.