The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is an outgrowth of the Eastern Conservation Conference begun in 1937. Seven states, including Maryland, ratified a compact in 1941 (Chapter 435, Acts of 1941). This compact, approved by the U.S. Congress and signed by the President in 1942, is the legal basis of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

The Commission develops joint fishery management programs which may lead to uniform laws or varying but coordinated measures. It also adopts cooperative interstate management plans for particular species of fish or bodies of water common to two or more states. Each state must implement the management plan or the Commission may recommend to the Secretary of Commerce that a federal moratorium on fishing be imposed on the noncomplying state.

Fifteen Atlantic seaboard states have joined the Commission. They include Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia. Each member state is represented by three commissioners. One commissioner represents the state agency charged with conservation of fisheries resources, one is a legislator, and one is selected by the governor for a three-year term. Each participating state pays dues for the support of the Commission in proportion to the value of its marine fisheries catch (Code Natural Resources Article, secs. 4-301 through 4-305).

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