SPORT FISH ADVISORY COMMISSION MEETING
Dr. Jim Gilford Diane Baynard Ed O’Brien
Dave Dansberger Bill Carrier, III Richie Gaines
Brenda Foster James Smith Bill Windley
Chairman Jim Gilford called the meeting to order at
Howard King, Director of the Fisheries Service, told the Commission that DNR Deputy Secretary Lynn Buhl has left state service; Ron Guns will take her place as Deputy. Frank Dawson will be acting Assistant Secretary in Ron Gun’s stead.
The MD Fisheries Service, DNR and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have been developing a new role for the Cooperative Oxford Laboratory. It’s primary function has been shellfish disease; a finfish disease program was implemented and a new Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) is being developed for fish assessment. Steve Early, formerly the Assistant Director of Inland Fisheries, has been named the Director at Oxford Lab. Bob Lunsford is Assistant Director of Inland Fisheries.
Additions to the Agenda:
Chairman Gilford asked Mr. King if Ed Enamait, the Rivers
and Reservoirs program manager for Inland Fisheries, had retired; Bob Lunsford
said his last day was December 31st.
Chairman Gilford said that the SFAC would like to send a letter to Mr.
Enamait thanking him for his service and his help to fishing clubs in
Sgt. Ditmars told the Commission that this was his last meeting and introduced his replacement, Sgt. McVeigh. Kenny Keen, Deputy Director of the Fisheries Service, welcomed Sgt. McVeigh, who he said is highly regarded by both the Department and local fishermen.
Sgt. Ditmars gave a brief description of recent enforcement
that involved fisheries: 1) NRP did a saturation patrol on the oyster fishery
Regarding the Striped Bass fishery, illegal nets were found, but to date the owners could not be located.
At the present time, the recreational side is slow, but will pick up next month.
Mr. King asked Sgt. Ditmars if someone from the NRP could give a presentation to the SFAC on the COMSTAT program used to assess problem areas. Sgt. Ditmars promised to check in to this.
Gina Hunt, Assistant Director of Legislative and Regulatory Programs, went over a handout of current regulations under consideration:
Ø Oyster Power Dredge Study Areas
Ø Black Sea Bass
Ø Bait package
Ø Yellow Perch
Ø Fishing Guides – Freshwater and Limited Tidal Guides; sets up a renewal timeline
Ø Oyster Sanctuaries – Takes all existing sanctuaries and puts them in regulation
Ø Exotic species
Mrs. Hunt then went over a handout of current legislation under consideration:
Ecosystem Based Management Plans:
Mrs. Hunt explained to the Commission that the Department is working on Ecosystem Based Management Plans for 5 species – Striped Bass, Menhaden, Alosids, Blue Crabs and (?). She is asking for participation from the SFAC, the TFAC and the public on species teams to review biological backgrounds and other information. Participation would mean attending two, or three, meetings a year and reviewing periodic emails on the subject. The full Commission will see the plans during the public review period. To volunteer, Mrs. Hunt said the Commissioners could contact the email contact listed on the handout she provided, or her at email@example.com.
Bob Lunsford, Assistant Director of Inland Fisheries, provided information on the annual pre-season stocking. To date, 14, or 15, areas had already been stocked; most of these were impoundments. The Murley Springs Rearing Facility has had excellent success this year in brown trout. Bear Creek Hatchery is getting additional growth due to this year’s mild winter. The hatcheries expect to stock 449,500 rainbow and brown trout in 2006. The stocking schedule should be available at the end of January.
Mr. Lunsford told the Commission that the Inland staff had checked into the tidal walleye as requested at the last SFAC meeting. There is really little information other than a stock increase in the 1970’s and another one in 1990. There are currently two regulations on tidal walleye: 1) 14” minimum and 2) the fishery is hook and line only, closed to commercial fishing. The inland staff is looking at a conservation plan on walleye in tidal waters; they are leaning toward protection.
Kenny Keen gave an overview of the MAFMC meeting held in January.
Ø Summer Flounder – The harvest limits will remain the same for 2006, 15” minimum/2 per day in the Bay.
Yellow Perch – Two public hearings will be held,
January 25th in
Ø Black Drum – Pound netters are asking that the compensation program be reinstated.
Striped Bass – Howard King told the Commission
Commissioner Ed O’Brien commended Mr. King for doing a great job in negotiations with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). He said that the Striped Bass trophy season accounts for 40% of the charter boat industry’s revenue; the charter boat captains appreciate all he is doing to help them.
Proposal 1 – Extend Susquehanna Flats catch & release season geography:
1(a) – Northern boundary to a line from Tomes Landing to Lapidum Landing
DNR will support, contingent on data collection.
1(b) – Southern boundary
to a line from
DNR has reservations about moving the line south.
Proposal 2 – Delay the start of the Susquehanna Catch & Release until April 1st.
DNR sees no significant benefit in this.
Proposal 3 – Extend the Susquehanna Catch & Release to May 16th.
If the water stays cooler than 65°, DNR would be receptive to extending the fishery by public notice.
Several Commissioners felt that this would be hard to monitor; due to the shallow water, the temperature of the Flats fluctuates very rapidly. Mr. King suggested that the Department hire someone with a boat to criss-cross the Flats and take temperature readings for a two weeks period to obtain data.
Proposal 4 – Open all areas of the Bay except spawning reaches for catch & release fishing from April 1 May 15
DNR does not support with the exception of the Flats where sex ratio data indicates <90% of the striped bass are males.
Proposal 5 –Open all areas of the Bay for catch & release as follows:
a) May 16 to June 1 – two fish 18-28 slot limit
b) June 1 – two fish, minimum 18, only one over 28
DNR does not support fishing in striped bass spawning reaches prior to June 1.
Commissioner Gaines feels that
the Department needs to straighten out the discrepancies in keeping fish in the
Proposal 6 – Extend the Susquehanna Flats Catch &
Release Striped Bass fishery regulation to include the entire
DNR would support a modest expansion north of Lapidum to Tombs Landing.
Lee Haile, VP of the Northern Bay Chapter MSSA gave a handout and verbal presentation to the Commission in support of this proposal.
Chairman Gilford asked Mr. King how the Department would proceed with these proposals. Mr. King said that there was concern with Proposal #6 due to the fast water conditions in this area. This creates boating safety concerns and also makes the mortality rate higher due to exhaustion. But, DNR will support the 3.8 miles up to Lapidum and a Flats Catch & Release, as well as a catch and keep on the Flats.
He said he will make a proposal to the ASMC for
Volunteer Angler Survey:
Mr. Gary then opened the discussion about the Volunteer Angler Survey. Chairman Gilford and Commissioner Windley both felt that the Department should work to promote this. The information is valuable to anglers; it made a profound effect on flounder regulations. Mr. Gary said Angel Bolinger will do a flounder survey and Beth Versak will push a striped bass survey. Also, recreational anglers will be asked to declare for striped bass when they buy licenses this year. Mr. Gary thanked the MSSA for their tremendous help in promoting the flounder survey. Several Commissioners gave suggestions for promotion: Chairman Gilford suggested getting the NRP to help; Commissioner Gaines suggested the Department print flyers for charter boat captains and guides to hand out; Commissioner O’Brien suggested having sizes, instead of pounds, on the logbook for data.
Mr. Gary provided a handout of the Executive Summary
outlining a proposed submarine warfare range that will go 34 mile
offshore. Proposed site are
Commissioner Windley made a motion to request an extension on the comment period.
Commissioner O’Brien seconded – the motion passed.
Commissioner O’Brien then made a motion for the Department to give a position on the LNG extension on the Bay at the next SFAC meeting on February 27th. Jim Gracie, of MARC, told the Commission that he could have someone give an explanation at the next meeting.
Marketing Plan Updates:
Mr. Gary reviewed the intention for the Commission to develop both an Inland plan and an Estuarine/Marine plan. The Inland group has met and has been quite productive. The Estuarine/Marine group has not yet met; Mr. Gary said that due to a heavy workload, he had been unable to move the group forward. Commissioner Brenda Foster offered to take over and keep Mr. Gary informed of the group’s progress to help alleviate his workload. She said she would approach Commissioner Mike Critzer for help; Commissioner Richie Gaines also volunteered to help. Commissioner Windley offered space in the MSSA magazine for promotion.
Ø The Department is moving forward with the Maryland Statewide plan for sport fish reefs. This will bring the Bay and coastal interests together by early summer.
Ø Mitigation requirements for SHA are being looked at.
Ø MES has had the reef program permits for years and the Department has been working to get this program back to DNR. The Department is hoping for a late summer turnover.
Commissioner Diane Baynard asked the Commission to readdress
the Department’s proposal to open the
Mr. King explained data that led to the Department’s
decision to open these areas and to restore the commercial fishery in the
Choptank and both the recreational and commercial fisheries in the
Chairman Gilford felt that the recreational fishermen are being disenfranchised and that enforcement will be quite difficult.
Mr. King told the Commission that the Department would reopen a plan to address increased efficiency of commercial fishery compared to recreational fishery.
Commissioner Dansberger pointed out that the SFAC took a stand against this proposal early in the process. The consensus of the Commission is that the number of recreational fishermen that will benefit far exceeds the number of commercial fishermen that will benefit. The Department should encourage this fishery for recreational due to easy accessibility to all recreational anglers.
The vote was taken 2 abstained, 7 in favor – the motion passed.
Commissioner Baynard said she would make a statement of the SFAC’s opposition at the public hearing on Wednesday, January 25th.
Black Drum Compensation in the Bay:
Commissioner Baynard made a motion that the SFAC propose a “no sale” status for Black Drum.
Commissioner Foster seconded.
Mr. King asked if the Commission had no objection to compensation. Both Chairman Gilford and Commissioner Baynard said that the motion includes “no pay” for compensation.
Sherm Baynard, of the CCA, remarked that it is a question of allocation, not science.*
(*Note: The Director had previously told the Commission that there is no scientific basis for denying a commercial harvest of Black Drum in the Bay.)
The vote was taken 1 abstained, 8 in favor – the motion passed.
Pound Net Lighting:
Commissioner Baynard reported that the Pound Net Lighting proposal of the CCA was presented to both the TFAC and the Boating Act Advisory Commission as requested by Mr. King. Mr. King asked if they had looked into other types of lighting. Ms. Baynard said they hadn’t.
Commissioner Dansberger commented that he had not seen the minutes for recent meetings. Mr. Gary told him that he is in the process of updating the website so that the minutes would be readily available. (The minutes for the November meeting will be unavailable, due mechanical failure of the recorder used to record each meeting.)
Commissioner Gilford asked Mr. King about the loophole that
allows commercial fishermen to set their nets early in the
Commissioner Gaines remarked that there should be better communication on issues relevant to the SFAC. He asked that the Commissioners be provided with short updates to keep them informed of any issues of concern to the SFAC. Mr. King said that the biweekly DNR updates provided to the Governor’s office could be emailed to the Commission members.
Chairman Gilford adjourned the meeting at .