Monday, April 3, 2017

Blue Catfish Fishery Caught Between Rock, Hard Place

Blue Catfish appear to be caught between two different mandates, the desire to eliminate (or at least seriously reduce) the numbers of the invasive species in the Potomac and other rivers where they don't belong, and the desire to control the safety of the food supply through the inspection of fish: New catfish reg threatens watermen’s livelihood, Bay

. . .a new federal regulation could disrupt what many see as one of the most successful “eat the invasives” campaigns in the country. Under legislation passed by Congress years ago to protect Mississippi’s farmed catfish industry from foreign imports, sales of any type of catfish, including these wild-caught in the Chesapeake region, will be subject to inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The requirement takes full effect in September.

What that means for the fishermen who catch blue cats, the processors who turn them into fillets and the chefs who cook them is unclear. But Turner is sure none of it can be good.

“There’s a possibility that this could just shut the fishery down,” Turner said as he filled his cooler with more of the whiskered fish with smooth, slate-blue skin. “I’m not only concerned about my livelihood. I’m concerned about the ecosystem. I’ve seen what they can do.”
While I'm not yet convinced that the Blue Catfish are doing much damage in the Potomac system, I think that having a vigorous commercial fishery on them in these waters is a good idea. But there's a way to square this circle. Get the feds to establish a USDA inspections station in the region.


  1. another way top rid the bay of these "invaders" is to declaRE them a "rough fish" .. like carp and buffalo..and allow unrestricted and unlimited netting for sale to dog/cat food processers

  2. As far as I know, there's nothing to prevent that now. There are no seasons or limits on blue cats in the Potomac, probably just not enough for a market, or the value is too low for the cost of the fishery.