DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL

Division of Fish and Wildlife

Statutory Authority: 7 Delaware Code, Sections 2701(d) (7 Del.C. §2701(d)

PROPOSED

SAN #2006-14

1. Title of the Regulations:

3711 Conch Minimum Size Limits

3712 Commercial Conch Dredge Licenses

3756 Lobsters - Pot Design

2. Brief Synopsis of the Subject, Substance and Issues:

To raise the minimum size of knobbed whelks (knobbed conchs) that may be harvested from five inches to six inches in one-quarter inch increments over a four-year period. This will result in increased conservation of spawning stock biomass for a resource that is showing signs of over-exploitation. More conchs will have reached maturity prior to being subject to harvest with the increase in the minimum size limit. This will likely depress landings until the conchs previously subject to harvest have grown from five inches to the newly proposed legal size of six inches. The Department estimates it will take 3-4 years for a five-inch conch to reach 6 inches.

To cap the number of conch dredge licenses that the Department may issue to the number issued during the period 2003-2005. This cap will be maintained for a five-year period. This will prevent a potential doubling of fishing effort that could occur (based on the number of license applicants) if the number of available licenses were not capped and will help limit increases in mortality caused by fishing which the Department has determined is already excessive for the long-term health of this resource. Those license applicants who have been on the five-year waiting list will be unable to obtain a conch dredge license for a minimum of five additional years under this proposed regulation.

The rectangular escape vent in the parlor of lobster pots would be increased from the present 1 15/16ths inches by 5 inches to 2 inches by 5 inches. If a circular vent is used, it is proposed that the minimum inside diameter be 2 5/8ths inches. These vent dimensions would be consistent with federal requirements for lobster pots set in federal waters in our area. The overwhelming majority of Delaware's lobster landings are from federal waters and the proposed increase in vent size is considered to be the appropriate escape vent dimensions with the minimum lobster size limits (3 3/8s inch carapace length) now in effect in Delaware and federal waters offshore of Delaware

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3. Possible Terms of the Agency Action:

N/A

4. Statutory Basis or Legal Authority to Act:

§1902, §2804; and §2505 of 7 Delaware Code.

5. Other Regulations that may be affected by the Proposal:

N/A

6. Notice of Public Comment:

Individuals may address questions to the Fisheries Section, Division of Fish and Wildlife, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901, (302)739-3441 or by e-mail to roy.miller@state.de.us. A public hearing on these two proposed regulations will be held in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Auditorium, at 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE at 7:30 PM on October 17. Written comments for the hearing record should be addressed to Lisa Vest, Hearing Officer, Office of the Secretary, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901, or by e-mail to Lisa.Vest@state.de.us and will be accepted until 4:30 PM October 20, 2006.

7. Prepared by:

Roy W. Miller 302-739-9914 August 11, 2006

3700 Shellfish Regulations (3711, 3712 and 3755)

3711 Conch Minimum Size Limits (Formerly S-48)

(Penalty Section 7 Del.C. §1912)

1.0 It shall be unlawful for any person to possess any channeled conch, Busycotypus canaliculatusm, that measures less than six (6) inches in length or 3 1/8 inches in diameter at the whorl.

2.0 Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 1.0, a person may possess no more than five (5) channeled conchs per 60 pounds that are less than six (6) inches in length or 3 1/8 inches in diameter at the whorl.

3.0 It shall be unlawful for any person to possess any knobbed conch, Busycon carica, that measures less than five (5) inches in length or 2 inches in diameter at the whorl. 5 inches in 2007, 5 inches in 2008, 5 inches in 2009, and six (6) inches in length in 2010. Beginning in 2010, the minimum length shall remain 6 inches thereafter until changed by regulation. The minimum diameter at the whorl shall be no less than 3 inches in 2007, 3 inches in 2008, 3 inches in 2009 and 3 inches in 2010 and shall remain 3 inches thereafter until changed by regulation.

3712 Commercial Conch Dredge Licenses

(Penalty Section 7 Del.C. § 1912)

1.0 Pursuant to §2803(c) of 7 Del.C, the Department shall not issue any new conch dredge licenses for a period of 5 years to begin January 1, 2006. Licenses may continue to be issued pursuant to §2803(d) of 7 Del.C.

3756 Lobsters - Pot Design (Formerly S-23)

(Penalty Section 7 Del.C. §1912)

1.0 It shall be unlawful for any person to set, tend or conduct shellfishing for lobsters with any pot or trap in the waters under the jurisdiction of the State unless said pot or trap has an escape vent, slot or port of not less than 1 15/16 two (2) inches by 5 inches located in the parlor section of each pot or trap., or if a circular escape vent is used in the parlor section of any lobster pot or trap., it shall be unlawful to use any circular vent that is less than 2 5/8 inches inside diameter.

2.0 It shall be unlawful for any person to set, tend or conduct shellfishing for lobsters with any pot or trap, not constructed entirely of wood, excluding heading or parlor twine and the escape vent, that does not contain a ghost panel covering an opening that measures at least 3 inches by 3 inches. A ghost panel means a panel, or other mechanism, designed to allow the escapement of lobsters after a period of time if the pot or trap has been abandoned or lost. The panel must be constructed of, or fastened to the pot or trap with, one of the following untreated materials: wood lath, cotton, hemp, sisal or jute twine not greater than 3/16 inch in diameter, or non-stainless, uncoated ferrous metal not greater than 3/32 inch in diameter. The door of the pot or trap may serve as the ghost panel, if fastened with a material specified in this subsection. The ghost panel must be located in the outer parlor(s) of the pot or trap and not the bottom of the pot or trap.

3.0 It shall be unlawful for any recreational or commercial lobster pot fisherman to set, tend or conduct shellfishing for lobsters with a lobster pot or trap with a volume larger than 22,950 cubic inches.

10 DE Reg. 522 (09/01/06) (Prop.)