Smallmouth bass

Image Credit: Joel Vandekrol

Maryland Creates New Black Bass Conservation Fund

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources now has a dedicated source of funding for conservation of Maryland’s largemouth bass and smallmouth bass—collectively called black bass—to which the state’s anglers, boaters, hunters, and others can contribute when purchasing their licenses.

Governor Wes Moore signed legislation on May 8 to create the Black Bass Conservation Fund, establishing a voluntary donation program through the Department of Natural Resources’ online COMPASS licensing system to help conserve the species and protect the fishery. Donations will be used to procure bass for remediation stocking in freshwater waterways, install structures for enhancing aquatic habitat, purchase supplies that promote conservation during bass tournaments, and support scientific research related to conservation of the resource.

“This dedicated source of funding has been long in the making and should enable us to do more to make better fisheries for our black bass anglers,” said Dr. Joseph Love, the Department of Natural Resources’ program manager for black bass conservation. “While management objectives have been met with existing funding, expanding existing access to the fishery and addressing long-term challenges that bass face in our ecosystems requires new approaches and a new way of funding them.”

Changing and challenging ecosystems—such as the spread of invasive species, warming waters, sea level rise, and development pressure—have impacted the viability of largemouth bass and smallmouth bass in some Maryland waterways. In addition, the Department of Natural Resources is looking to improve access to bass fishing for anglers through projects such as building underwater reefs or fishing trails.

Projects will be considered for funding through the new program each year by the Department of Natural Resources and its Black Bass Advisory Committee, which comprises bass anglers, conservations, tournament directors, fishing guides, and other experts appointed by the department secretary.