Fishing for an Invasive: Maryland’s Toolbox for Managing Northern Snakehead
Joseph W. Love and Paul Genovese
Abstract.—Northern Snakehead Channa argus was found in ponds of Maryland in 2002 and now occupies most major rivers of Chesapeake Bay watershed. The relatively rapid expansion is owed to both natural dispersal and illegal introductions by humans. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MDDNR) worked with other agencies and the general public to develop tools that managed the expanding fishery for Northern Snakehead. These tools included: 1) regulation; 2) a MDDNR-to-public information network; 3) an agency-to-agency information network; 4) social media initiatives to promote recreational harvest; 5) fishing award initiatives to incentivize recreational harvest; 6) seafood marketing initiatives to support commercial harvest; and 7) tournament initiatives to promote harvest. Of these, the most likely ones lowering biomass and preventing spread of the species were regulation, the MDDNR-to-public information network, initiatives involving fishing awards, seafood marketing, and tournaments. Unregulated harvest and prohibited live possession collectively benefit the general public because they afford wide fisher freedom without rewarding unauthorized introductions with expensive conservation management.