DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL
Division of Fish and Wildlife
Notice of Public Hearing
Title Of The Regulations:
Tidal Finfish Regulations
Brief Synopsis of the Subject, Substance and Issues:
The coast wide requirements for recreational black sea bass fishermen, as mandated by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Fishery Management Plan (FMP), in 2005 are a 12.0 inch minimum size length with a 25 fish creel limit and no closed season. Delaware currently has a twelve (12) inch minimum size limit, a 25 fish creel limit and a closed season during September 8 through September 21 and December 1 through December 31. It is proposed to amend Tidal Finfish Regulation No. 3507 to eliminate the current closed season in order to be in compliance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s FMP.
The Summer Flounder Fishery Management Plan (FMP) details the annual process that the Summer Flounder Fishery Management Board, the Mid-Atlantic Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service are to use to establish conservation equivalency for the recreational summer flounder fishery. These agencies agreed that the states would implement conservationally equivalent measures rather than a coastwide management program for summer flounder in 2005. Delaware is obligated to cap the summer flounder recreational harvest at 150,000 fish for 2005. This is 29,000 more fish than were estimated to have been landed in 2004. Given that over one million marine recreational fishing trips occur annually in Delaware and that the 2000 year class of summer flounder was reported to be above average thus suggesting that more fish may be available for harvest in 2005; it is unadvisable to significantly alter the management measures that were in place for 2004. However, landings information suggests that by increasing the season to adjust for the eight percent increase in the harvest cap projected landings will continue to remain below the 2005 limit. As such, it is proposed that the eight management options that were presented for the 2004 fishing season, which included size ranges from 16 inches to 17.5 inches and creel limits ranging from 4 fish to 7 fish, and a variety of seasonal closures be presented again for public review and comment. Options one through six, which have seasonal closures, are being adjusted to include additional days in order to compensate for the eight percent increase in the harvest cap. The adopted management approach for 2004 included a 17.5 inch minimum size, and 4 fish creel limit. It is anticipated that the minimum size limit of 17.5 inches will once again be an effective restraining factor in 2005.
Notice Of Public Comment:
Individuals may present their comments or request additional information by contacting the Fisheries Section, Division of Fish and Wildlife, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901, (302) 739-3441. A public hearing on these proposed amendments will be held on February 24, 2005 at 7:30 PM in the DNREC Auditorium, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901. The record will remain open for written comments until 4:30 PM, March 4, 2005.
Richard Cole, (302) 739-4782, January 10, 2005