In the 1970’s/1980’s some humans decided to introduce Blue Catfish into three Virginia Rivers in the Chesapeake Bay region. The bright idea: start a new recreational fishery. The Blue Catfish is a very large [100 lb.] freshwater creature native to the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio rivers. The bright idea–like many other wildlife introductions—was a bad idea.
In the early 1990’s, fisheries managers closed several fishing areas off New England. They closed these areas to help rebuild depleted fish populations of commercially important species of cod, haddock, and flounders. But these closed areas have also provided benefits for other ocean wildlife, like many of the region’s marine mammals– such as harbor porpoises, bottlenose dolphins, the endangered North Atlantic right whale, and endangered humpback whales. [If you are ever in Maine, I highly recommend going whale watching to see these magnificent creatures up close!] Unfortunately, these protections for New England’s marine mammals are now in jeopardy.
By the early 1990’s, fisheries had depleted several of New England’s fish species, like cod, haddock, and flounders. Fishermen had been catching too many fish and fishing had degraded important fish habitats. Since then, better fisheries management has enabled some species to recover to healthy abundances. But unfortunately, several other species have struggled to recover.