JOINT MEETING OF THE SPORT FISH ADVISORY COMMISSION AND TIDAL FISHERIES ADVISORY COMMISSION
Brenda Foster – SFAC Diane Baynard – SFAC William Carrier, III – SFAC
Ed O’Brien – SFAC Dr. James Gilford – SFAC, Chair Richard Webster – TFAC
Glenn James – TFAC Karen Oertel – TFAC Jack Brooks -- TFAC
Larry Simns – TFAC Russell Dize -- TFAC
Howard King, Director of the Fisheries Service, called the meeting to order at
SFAC Commissioner Ed O’Brien asked that opening of EEZ be discussed.
TFAC Commissioner Larry Simns expressed concern about the investigation of watermen and how it should be handled – by outside agency. Mr. King said this would be addressed at the next TFAC and/or SFAC meetings when NRP representatives are present.
Seafood Commission Update – the mandated report will be completed by the end of the year.
Legislative Sportsman Caucus – discussing needs of recreational fishermen, including staffing and funding needs – is scheduled to go back to legislators by Nov. 15
Aquaculture Committee – outcome of decisions could have further legislation and could impact fishing
-at the end of this year there will be a full report.
Marty Gary, DNR Fisheries Service, reported the following to the Commissioners:
- the center span of the project could become available for reefs
- two sunken barges are on site now
- possibilities for lower and middle bay reef materials
- a public comment period on reef project will be coming up soon
- locations with GPS will be put up on the DNR website
Kenny Keen, Deputy Director of the Fisheries Service spoke
to the Commissioners about the Department coordinating with watermen in the
area to look at the lost oyster area around
DNR is working to reclaim the lost crabbing area as well.
Discussion on Poplar island expansions – general comments were that the project is hurting pristine bottom and will harm watermen.
Commissioner Ed O’Brien commented that proposals were made to open it up several times – there are some people that want it open; but the majority of charter boat captains don’t want it open because it will be bad for the fishery. They are worried that biomass will go down; worried that equilibrium of population will be lost. He hopes that MD will continue to work to keep it closed; there have been rumors that it’s 50-50 in favor of opening it. He pointed out the SFAC has discussed before and has been against it.
Mr. King said that Commission members had debated whether to ask to consider opening it to begin with; He is uncertain whether there will be an impact or not.
Commissioner Simns expressed concern about opening it up.
FINE & BOND SCHEDULE:
Commissioner O’Brien read a statement on behalf of the Harrisons – both Buddy Jr. and Sr. made personal comments.
Gina Hunt, Director of DNR Policy and Regulatory Programs told the Commissioners that the Department reviews the Fines & Bond Schedule every year during this time. She them gave an overview of F&B – a Powerpoint presentation.
Commissioner Simns felt that we should wait to change fines, so that they are not rushed just to please the public. Commissioner Russell Dize reminded Ms. Hunt that he worked on a workgroup for a year to change these before.
Bob Evans, a
Commissioner Diane Baynard pointed out that the commissions don’t get together often; she felt strongly that the Commissions need to move forward now.
Commissioner Karen Oertel felt that it is not an issue that can ramroded; that the Commissions won’t make a vote tonight. She felt that a reasonable judge will allow time to fix it.
Commissioner O’Brien suggested that they reconvene the subcommittees and tackle problem there; there are too many sub issues to be addressed at this time.
Commissioner Jim Gilford felt that the commissions are likely to agree to reconvene workgroups; they need to look at violations and reasoning of why we have them – are we deterring or punishing?
Commissioner Bill Carrier was on the workgroup – feels that there are legislative and regulatory aspects to this issue; prepaid penalty – scheme of paying $125 and $5 per fish is not reasonable.
Ms. Hunt said that a Judge requested that DNR change the fine from $120 per fish to the current system.
Commissioner J.R. Gross felt that the reasoning for current fines would be that commercial watermen catch so many fish; they are likely to have some undersized. He said the watermen can’t leave their nets unattended; so they’re bound to get some undersized fish.
Public Comment – would like to see substantial amount for repeat offenders
Commissioner Dize said the penalty workgroup was convened because people didn’t like the Judges’ fines and penalties.
Danny Beck, a
Margie Whilden, a Terrapin proponent made the comment that there are no citations for terrapins. Sarah Widman, Fisheries Service Policy and Regulatory Program, told her that there are citations on the books. Ms. Hunt said that new regulations are added each year.
Commissioner Guilford asked for an annual process to check Fines and Bonds; he asked to reconvene the workgroup next month.
Commissioner Simns told the Commissioners that tickets for wrong fines are being given by NRP using the old Fine & Bond Schedule. He feels that the NRP are out to get watermen; that watermen live by different standards than recreational fishermen. Commissioner Carrier reminded him that the NRP officer has discretion. Commissioner Dize commented that it happens all the time. Commissioner Foster pointed out that all commissioners are listed on the Fisheries Service website – so they should contact commissioners if there are any questions.
Commissioner Simns said that the Fines and Bonds Schedule doesn’t have points for recreational violations and that charter boat captains can’t lose their license for passengers, violations.
Commissioner Baynard suggested that they reconvene the group with NRP officer present.
Public comment – asked for group to address terrapins.
Commissioner Oertel made a motion to make terrapins part of a study. Commissioner James seconded the motion.
Ms. Hunt suggested that the commissions select members for a workgroup instead and asked for volunteers. SFAC Chairman Jim Guilford said he would call with names from the SFAC; the TFAC said they would also contact her with names from the TFAC.
Mr. King said he would report to the Secretary tomorrow and would get back to the commissions if the Secretary feels differently.
Meeting was adjourned.