SPORTFISH ADVISORY COMMISSION MEETING
Dr. James Gilford, Chairman Diane Baynard
David Dansberger William Carrier, III
Bill Windley, Jr. Brenda Foster
Michael Critzer Mark Sampson
Chairman Jim Gilford called the meeting to order at . He asked for any additions to the agenda; there were none.
February 7th – 10th is the
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting week held in
Ø Summer Flounder public hearing, February 3rd, , Tawes, C-1. The options will be up on the Fisheries website after the ASMFC Summer Flounder Board meeting for a 10 day comment period.
Ø The Coastal Bays Committee met on Thursday, January 27th. The hot topics at this meeting were 1) Artificial reef development; 2) Possibility of having a representative on the ASMFC Artificial Reef Committee; 3) a Coastal Recreational Fishing License. Their next meeting will be the 3rd week of April; Summer Flounder management will be a topic of discussion then.
Chairman Gilford asked Mr. Gary about the status of the minutes from previous SFAC meetings. Mr. Gary reported that the minutes are complete and up to date; they will be posted on the website within the next week.
Mr. Gary introduced Megan Arts Eaton, of the DNR Office of Communication and Marketing, who was recently assigned to the Fisheries Service. Ms. Arts Eaton will assist the Fisheries staff with public notices, press releases, etc.
Chairman Gilford reminded Mr. Gary that he had promised to send a hard copy of the 2005 meeting schedule to the Commissioners.
Lieutenant Larsen introduced Sgt. Frank Ditmars
who is taking over liaison duty for the SFAC.
Maj. Larsen thanked the Commissioners for making his time as liaison
informative. He gave the Commissioners a
handout on several striped bass violations.
He also told them that the first class of 42 rangers will graduate from
Commissioner Diane Baynard
asked for an update on fike nets in the
Chairman Gilford welcomed Sgt. Ditmas to the Commission.
Gina Hunt, of the Fisheries
Service, gave a handout on Senate Bill 283, which is the Seafood Aquaculture
bill. She pointed out to the Commission
that the Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission would be asked to issue a report;
making recommendations and strategies that would be beneficial to their
fisheries. The SFAC would be asked to
comment on this report. Commissioner
Brenda Foster asked what the report would be based on. Ms. Hunt replied that it would look at the
top five commercial fisheries in
The Disability Exemption bill was discussed next. A hearing was scheduled for the week of Feb. 7th. This bill would apply a one-day license exemption to both tidal and non-tidal waters. It will mirror the existing non-tidal law.
Chairman Gilford inquired about two other free license bills that he had heard about. Ms. Hunt was unsure of those and promised to check on the details.
Commissioner Baynard asked if there was any update on the fee commission bill. Mr. King said it was his understanding that the bill is still out there, but is currently is on the shelf.
Ms. Hunt told the Commission that there was a good turnout at the public hearing the Department held. She gave the Commissioners a handout and explained the proposed changes in definitions, one of which was the renaming of the $40.00 boat license to the Consolidated Boat License. Commissioner Bill Windley asked if the Consolidated license covers only the holder when on another boat. Ms. Hunt explained that that is the case. In 2004, the old crab license law sunsetted, so it was rewritten in regulations and some of the old ambiguities were corrected. Lieutenant Larsen pointed out that the Consolidated License used to have the boat number it was associated with written on the license, but that is no longer true. That makes it harder for the enforcement officers and wondered if Licensing could possibly include the boat number again. Ms. Hunt did not know why it was eliminated, but would check with Licensing.
Ms. Hunt gave an update on the status of the new E-license program:
Telephone sales began on
Ø E-Licensing did a test group at DNR and the vendor is incorporating comments received from this group. The online service should be up and running by February 15th.
Ø This system will allow the user to print their own license, but decals purchased would have to be mailed.
Commissioner Bill Carrier inquired whether a press release would be issued when the E-Licenses become available. Ms. Arts-Eaton assured him that the press release is already written and waiting for the “go-ahead.”
Major Larsen commented that in the telephone sales, the person is given a temporary number to use until the actual license arrives by mail. He wondered if there are distinct designators in the number that NRP officers can recognize as valid for tidal and non-tidal. Ms. Hunt assured him that those concerns were addressed in the planning process.
Commissioner Foster asked if there was access to data for demographics to begin a survey of groups using these forms of purchase. Ms. Hunt told her that the internet data will be very reliable and has the ability to track purchases year to year.
Steve Early, of the Fisheries Service, gave the Commission an update on trout stocking:
Ø The pre-season stocking began early this year to avoid ice.
22 areas were stocked, press releases were
issued. Some areas were iced out, but
stocking is expected to be completed by
Ø Both Cedarville and Unicorn had good growth; fish were about ½ pound each, which is bigger than usual.
Ø There are no closure periods at this time.
Next, he explained some problems at Albert Powell Hatchery (APH), which is spring fed at 3,000 gals a minute from a limestone spring. On November 20th, the staff noticed turbidity in the water; a second similar event occurred on November 29th. Both of these events coincided with the drilling of wells in the nearby countryside. A study on the impact of urban growth that was recommended 25 years ago, never happened. Now, the Department is working with the Maryland Geological Survey to initiate a stud of the recharge area. One dye study in a nearby well was done; the marked water showed up down stream of the hatchery, not in the runways. The Department hopes to get some more dye studies to determine a pattern. The prognosis is not good if growth in the surrounding area continues; water quality could be seriously impacted.
Chairman Gilford asked what long-term provisions the Department has in case intervention fails. Mr. Early told him that water filtration systems are being evaluated. There is also a master draft plan of the County to make the Beaver Creek area a protected area.
Chairman Gilford wondered what the ultimate impact to trout production would be if APH was lost. Mr. Early said that of the 500,000 – 600,000 trout produced each year, ½ comes from APH and it is the only facility in the middle of the state. It would cost the Department approximately $500,000 to buy the fish currently produced at the hatchery.
Don Cosden, of the Fisheries Service, gave an update on Frank Bentz Pond, which is a 1 ½ acre pond owned by DNR. Five years ago, the dam was declared unsafe and DNR did not have the money to replace it. The town agreed to take ownership if the dam was replaced, but the permit to rebuild fell through a year ago. The Army Corps of Engineers suggested putting in a fish ladder, but DNR determined that no migratory species would really use it. The townspeople did not want the dam removed in the fall; after DNR drafted a letter to the Corps, the Corps agreed to meet with the town again. As it stands now, the Town doesn’t want to garner the expense of replacing the dam and are not happy that a new dam would be much longer than the current one. Chairman Gilford asked what the Department would do if the Town does not want to take ownership; Mr. Cosden said the dam will come down and the stream allowed to meander. Chairman Gilford explained the history of the pond and the problem to the Commission. He feels that it would be unfortunate to lose the pond. Commissioner Foster wondered if the Corps supports allowing the stream to meander; Chairman Gilford commented that there is no place for the stream to meander with current development as it is.
Mr. Early had one last bit of good news – Freshwater license sales went up in 2004.
Marty Gary presented an update on Summer Flounder:
Two public meetings were held; one in
Ø The ASMFC is taking under consideration the way payback for going over quota is calculated: 1) Based on the number of pounds taken in the current year, or 2) Based on a three year running average.
Mr. Gary asked which method the Commission would
prefer. Other suggestions were a 16”
minimum with a creel limit of 5, which is the status quo on the
Chairman Gilford pointed out that there is no provision for payback in the recreational fishery, only provisions for penalty. He also felt that the three-year average would not be accepted. Bruno Vasta, who is on the ASMFC, disagreed. He felt that averaging creates stability in the fishery.
Ms. Hunt updated the Commission on the commercial
harvest. The 2004 season had 91,000
pounds left for the year, which was very good for the management side. Chairman Gilford asked what the
recreational quota would be for 2005. Mr.
King told him that the
Mr. Gary told the Commission that the project is still underway and the prototype will be presented at the February joint meeting. The Department is hoping to incorporate corporate sponsorship to help defray the costs of the guidebook. Major Larsen asked if people who purchase licenses on the phone would get the guidebook. Ms. Hunt explained that the phone purchasers will be mailed a guidebook along with their license, but the online purchasers will not be mailed anything – all rules are available on the website and can easily be printed out. Mr. Early reminded the group that last year’s book was a 2004-2005 issue and is still valid for this year.
Commissioner Foster asked to discuss access points to
fishing areas in
According to Mr. Gary, Fisheries staff has been working to address this situation, but now the resources to finish a project begun by Angel Bolinger are unavailable. The GIS coordinates need ground-proofing one more time, but manpower is a problem. Commissioner Foster proposed that volunteers from the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of Trout Unlimited check these sites. Mr. Gary thought that might be a possible solution. She also suggested that the Fisheries website give all the information an angler would need. Mr. Gary said that the website is currently being revamped and welcomed any input for specifics from the Commissioners.
Chairman Gilford gave the date for the next meeting,
Commissioner Baynard made a motion to adjourn; Commissioner Dansberger seconded. The meeting was adjourned at