- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 5, 2017

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A moratorium on fishing for cownose rays has been passed by the Maryland General Assembly.

The legislature voted Wednesday to send the bill to Gov. Larry Hogan.

It creates a moratorium on contests that involve killing the rays until July 1, 2019. It also requires the Department of Natural Resources to prepare a fisheries management plan by Dec. 31, 2018.

The Humane Society of the United States has condemned the contests. The organization is calling the bill a major step in protecting Chesapeake Bay wildlife.

Legislation initially called for a ban. The moratorium was part of a compromise. Opponents of a permanent ban say the rays have been identified as damaging to bay oyster populations, but supporters say science has shown the rays are not responsible for oyster declines.

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