In April 2016, the department invited industry participants in the American eel fishery to discuss possible changes in management. Those in attendance expressed interest in continuing the discussion on how best to manage the eel fishery should changes become necessary. Adjustments to our management framework for eels may be needed as early as next year in order to comply with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Fishery Management Plan. Those in attendance agreed with the department that a proactive approach is ideal in this situation. We believe the best way to do this is for the industry to nominate representatives to a workgroup. Specifically, the department is seeking coordinated industry input on the management of this fishery in order to achieve the goals and objectives of the fishery’s participants. Should the department choose to move forward with advice involving regulatory change, the department will adhere to the established public process. This includes public scoping of the regulatory idea, obtaining input from both the Tidal and Sport Fisheries Advisory Commissions, and a public comment opportunity during the regulatory process.
The membership of the Eel Workgroup should be representative of the diverse interests within the commercial fishery. Nominations for each seat will be provided to the department by the industry participants: license holders that have reported eel harvest at least once in the last five years. Seats on the Eel Workgroup are arranged into 3 categories:
In addition, we will be inviting Industry Leadership, in the form of the TFAC chair, MWA President, and CBCFA president to participate on the workgroup.
The natural resources violation history of each nominee will reviewed by the department; any current member or nominee of the Eel Workgroup who accumulates 10 or more points during any two year period will be removed from the workgroup. In selecting new or replacement committee members, an individual who has acquired 10 or more points within the most recent two years will not be eligible. The department may also take into account other factors when determining eligibility, which include, but are not limited to excessive reporting violations, revocation of fishing permits, and probation before judgment dispositions for tier II and III offenses. Eligible nominees are appointed to the workgroup by the Director of Fishing and Boating Services.
Consistent with the Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission, members are appointed to a two year term. The department will request that industry leadership conduct a comprehensive review of the membership every two years. An individual may serve more than one term.
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