The Problem With Blue Catfish in Maryland Waters
Taking a Bite out of Chesapeake Bay Invasive Species
Blue catfish are native to the Mississippi River Valley and were introduced to the James and Rappahannock Rivers in the 1970s. Since then, the fish have reproduced and spread throughout the tidal Potomac River system. Flathead catfish, another non-native invasive species, and blue catfish have subsequently turned up in the Nanticoke, Susquehanna and Northeast Rivers, Upper Chesapeake Bay and other waters.
“We recognize the enthusiasm and economic impact of anglers in search of record catfish,” said DNR Fisheries Service Director, Tom O’Connell. “However, we don’t want to encourage the development and spread of this species. As top predators, they are a serious threat to native species, which provide ecological and economic benefits to the region.”
Blue catfish are invasive, non-native species that are long-lived, fast growing and opportunistic feeders. Consequently, State and Federal fisheries managers are concerned about their affect on the ecosystem, and are working together to develop strategies to mitigate their impact.