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DNR Misses Deadline To Respond To Menhaden Lawsuit

CAMBRIDGE, Md. (AP) — The Department of Natural Resources missed a deadline to reply to written questions from the plaintiffs in a lawsuit about the 2013 menhaden regulations, state officials say.

Burl Lewis and Larry Powley filed the suit Oct. 18 in Dorchester County Circuit Court, alleging DNR illegally promoted the regulations. The Harvesters Land and Sea Coalition is supporting the case.

The regulations restricted Maryland watermen to collectively harvesting 5.12 million pounds of menhaden this year and set a bycatch allowance of 6,000 pounds per licensee per day. Bycatch are marine animals that are caught in nets while fishing for another species.

Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Wazenski, who is handling the case for DNR, told the Star Democrat of Easton that the agency is working on replying to the questions.

“We’ve been working steadily on it,” she said. “It’s a significant amount of information that has to be reviewed and prepared for production. We’ve given them a date by which we will respond.”

The plaintiffs have asked for numbers for the poundage of menhaden caught between 2009 and 2013. The plaintiffs believe the species is not being overfished in the Chesapeake Bay.

Bob Newberry, spokesman for the Harvesters Land and Sea Coalition, said if DNR was required to have these numbers and studies to promote the regulations, it shouldn’t take as long as it has to provide the information.

The trial is set for May in Dorchester County Circuit Court.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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