Haul seine gear is a net that is used in shallow water to sweep an area to corral fish for harvest. The gear is typically used to pursue bait and lower value per pound species, which means they are normally harvested in high volume. Gizzard or mud shad, carp, and catfish are the primary target of haul seine fisheries in Maryland.
The nets have corks across the top and a weighted lead line to stretch the net down into the water. Fishermen wade in the water or use small vessels as permitted by current regulations to circle the net around a school of fish and then bring it full circle or penned against shallow water or a beach to then begin dipping the harvest into a tender vessel.
The expansion of the use of these nets in portions of Anne Arundel county waters has unknown ecological impacts of harvesting large amounts of forage or bait species.
Maryland DNR has no management plan or requirement to determine sustainable rates of harvest for gizzard shad, carp and other legally harvested species. In fisheries, legal does not always mean managed for ecological sustainability
Atlantic Menhaden are a likely target of this gear, but are managed on a coastwide level, not through a specific Chesapeake Bay or Maryland based fishery management plan. This does not answer the questions raised regarding expansions in local harvest with mobile gear and the impact this has on the local ecosystem.
Maryland DNR does not know how will the use of this gear impact targeted and non-targeted species?