ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The Maryland Senate has approved a two-season moratorium on fishing for cownose rays in contests, pending a study by a state agency.

The Senate voted 46-0 on Monday night for the moratorium.

Legislation initially called for a ban. Animal rights organizations, including the Humane Society and the Save the Rays coalition, say the contests are inhumane and harmful to the environment.

But some opponents of a permanent ban say the rays have been identified as damaging to the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster and blue crab populations. As a compromise, the legislation was changed to have a moratorium in place until July 2018. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will complete a study by the end of the year.

The bill now goes to the House of Delegates.

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