Cownose Rays Get Reprieve

Maryland has placed a two-year moratorium on killing contests targeting cownose rays. The new law also directs the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to create a fishery management plan for the species by the end of 2018. AWI submitted testimony to both houses of the Maryland legislature in favor of the bill (SB 268/HB 211).

In the past, participants in the contests shot the rays with arrows and hauled them up to bludgeon them. Once the contest was over, the dead rays were most often discarded.

Cownose rays have been blamed for oyster declines in the Chesapeake Bay. But a report from a 2015 workshop at the National Aquarium indicated that oysters are not a major part of their diet. In 2016, a Florida State University study indicated the oyster declines were actually due to disease, overharvesting, and habitat loss.