DNR's Fisheries Service will hold open houses

Public is invited to discuss and learn about new regulations being considered for striped bass seasons

October 01, 2011|By Don Markus, The Baltimore Sun

After tons more striped bass were found to be caught illegally on Maryland's waterways this year — and 60 recreational fishermen were recently contacted by officials of the Department of Natural Resources informing them they could face the prospect of losing their licenses — two open houses have been scheduled for this week so the public and other interested parties can learn of new regulations being considered.

Gina Hunt, deputy director of the Fisheries Service for the DNR, said Friday that the open houses are a more relaxed setting "similar to a show at an art gallery" than a public hearing, at which officials take questions and hear comments from interested parties.

The meetings will take place at the BG Louis G. Smith Armory in Easton on Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and at the Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company on Thursday in Severna Park, also from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

According to Hunt, the regulatory actions being considered include the permanent marking of an individual's license number on the cork on a gill net in the Chesapeake Bay or affixed to every 50 feet if a float line is used. Other actions under consideration involve watermen informing the DNR of their intent to fish for striped bass on a given day as well as where they are going and how much they plan to harvest. The DNR is considering penalties that include suspension of an individual's striped bass permit for up to two years.

Most of the rockfish — also known as striped bass — were hauled in with gill nets placed illegally or out of season, officials said last month.

The nonregulatory actions being considered at the open houses include holding back a quota annually of the amount of striped bass that is reported caught because fishermen have traditionally underreported and falsified harvest reports. The DNR will also develop an application to enable Natural Resources Police to access the tag numbers supplied to each striped bass harvester in the Chesapeake and Atlantic fisheries; the tag numbers would be entered electronically.

Hunt said the open houses will hopefully spur discussion rather than heated debate, and that interested parties can leave comments at the site or send them by fax or electronically by Oct. 24. The new regulations become effective Nov. 28.

"It's less confrontational and more conversational," Hunt said of the open-house setting.

Hunt said a pilot program to install tracking devices on commercial fishing boats in the Chesapeake Bay will also be discussed at the open houses, but the proposed regulations are the real focus of the events.

don.markus@baltsun.com

    Baltimore Sun Articles
    |
    |
    |
    Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.