SPORTFISHERIES ADVISORY COMMISSION MEETING
Dr. Jim Gilford, Chairman Diane Baynard
Bill Carrier, III David Dansberger
Bill Windley Ed O’Brien
John Marple Brenda Foster
Michael Critzer Jim Smith
Chairman Jim Gilford called the meeting to order at
Sergeant Ditmars gave an overview of the Natural Resources Police activities over the summer months. He said that boating accidents, drownings and violations were lower this year than in previous summers. The merge with the Parks enforcement officers is going well. There has been a lot of crossover training to make the transition go more smoothly. Commissioner Diane Baynard asked if there will be a new Academy class this year. Sergeant Ditmars said the Department is working to start a class in the spring.
Commissioner Ed O’Brien asked Mr. Kociuba about water releases and the debris that flows into the bay upon release. He said this is a major concern of the Bay’s Charter Boat Captains. Mr. Kociuba said that debris is taken out monthly from the top of the dam. He promised to follow up on the company’s procedures and will give the group an idea of what they do and how they do it.
Estuarine and Marine Update
Howard King, Director of the
Fisheries Service, gave an update of the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management
Council meeting. Two meetings are
planned concerning an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. The first meeting is scheduled for October 12th
Summer flounder – A recent survey indicated that
stock was not expanding as previously thought.
The Council adopted a 15% reduction to rebuild stock by 2010. They agreed to hold the reduction for three
years, but were aware that the National Marine Fisheries ?
(NMFS) may not accept the 15% and ask for a 28% reduction. The cutback shouldn’t prompt recreational
Ø Bluefish – Stock is on the rebound. The recreational sector gets most of the allocation, but neither they, nor the commercial sector, catch their full quotas.
Ø The Council will meet again October 3 – 5 and Mr. King will get feedback on summer flounder at this meeting. There will be a re-election of officers; former Deputy Secretary Pete Jensen may be on the ballot as Vice Chair of the Council. When questioned about the Department’s position on Mr. Jensen’s selection to the Council, Mr. King told Commissioner Dansberger that the Department has no position since he will serve as a private citizen.
Mr. King told the Commission that
the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council (ASMFC) will hold a public hearing
on weakfish on September 29th, at the
Other items of interest from the ASMFC were:
Summer flounder – The option to join states to
set identical measures was made voluntary.
The Volunteer Angler Survey gave
Ø American Eels – A proposal to make these endangered is being reviewed. Unlike other areas of the country, the Bay stock of American eels has remained constant.
Menhaden – A cap was set on poundage taken from
the Bay, but the Coastal Bays catch was not limited. There has been no feedback to date from
Striped Bass – There was a proposal that would
require observers on 5% of the commercial boats.
Chairman Gilford pointed out
that this is not the same proposal that was presented in May. He felt that the Commissioners should get
advanced notice and background information from speakers so decisions can be
made in a timely, orderly fashion. He
also felt that the Department should give background and insight so the
Commissioners can be better informed Commissioners
Brenda Foster and Dave Dansberger agreed with the Chairman and expressed a
desire to be better informed. They felt
that issues get stonewalled for lack of information. Chairman Gilford asked the Department to come
back with the pros and cons of opening the
Mike Benjamin, representing
the Chesapeake Guide Association, gave a recap of the proposal of changes to
the spring catch & release season given earlier in the year. 1) A southern expansion from Sandy Pt. To the
buoy off Aberdeen and up to Turkey Point; 2) a northern expansion – move the
line up to Lapidum across to Tomes Landing; 3) Extension of the season based on
water temperature. Marty Gary
said he could provide a copy of the proposal to the Commission. Commissioner
Windley told the Commission that the MSSA board supports the season
extension and would like to see the opening of the
Howard King gave some background on the artificial reef program. In 1997, the Department abolished the program due to budget constraints and the job of issuing permits was transferred to the Maryland Environmental Survey (MES). Over the years, the program has become 2 parts – materials and opportunity (construction debris) and reef balls. Up to this point there is no overall plan for this program. The Department has approached MES about becoming custodians of the program and planning, and is now looking for funding.
This act is up for reauthorization. One topic, the saltwater fishermen registry,
is very hot.
A discussion followed on a Saltwater
license for the
Chairman Gilford asked for this agenda item and an update from the Department. Mr. King said the Department plans to have public meetings for yellow perch and white perch together. Requests to impose new measures for regulations would follow the meetings. Chairman Gilford expressed concern with inconsistencies in regulations and enforcement. Commercial catch is banned prior to March 1st, but fike nets for white perch are allowed to be set well in advance of this date. This tends to circumvent the law to allow spawning to occur. He feels that the Department should address this issue and come up with regulations that are consistent, that do not counter each other. Mr. King said the Department could revisit the setting of fike nets early, if that is what the Commission wants.
Marty Gary briefed the Commission on recent progress made in this area. The Inland work group convened, but the Estuarine/Marine group couldn’t meet during the summer, which is their busy work season. The Inland group was very productive; they came up with a draft document for a marketing plan that is 90% finished. He requested that the Estuarine/Marine group meet as soon as possible.
Commissioner Diane Baynard requested this agenda item. She introduced Dennis Fleming, from the Maryland Coastal Conservation Association (Md CCA) Southern MD Chapter, who gave a power point presentation. (Attached) The CCA is asking the Department to find a solution to lighting commercial pound nets in the Bay and its Tributaries that is more effective than the reflective tape most watermen choose to use. Attaching lights is voluntary at this point and due to the expense involved, reflective tape is used on a large portion of the nets that are set each year. The CCA feels that the issue is public safety, especially for nighttime boating; they are not attempting to find fault with pound net locations. According to Sgt. Ditmars and Commissioner O’Brien, the incidences of small boats going through nets are significant and warnings should go out to both boaters and pound net fishermen. Chairman Gilford felt this presentation should go to the Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission at their next meeting. Commissioner Baynard assured him that is the CCA’s intention.
Ø Georges Creek – This Potomac tributary in Western Maryland has a history of acid mine problems; in late August, a large fish kill occurred here. The regional Inland biologists found very poor water quality on the lower 4 miles and thousands of fish killed. Now, this portion of the creek is basically dead. Flows got so low, the lime doser wasn’t working properly; in addition, the chemistry of the seepage had changed. The Bureau of Mines is actively looking for a solution to this ongoing problem.
Ø Bluemont Quarry – Steve Early, Assistant Director of Inland Fisheries, told the Commission that the company that owns the quarry wants to resume operations in the north pit that flooded in 1972 and needs to dewater the 100’ deep pit. The water would be pumped into the nearby Gunpowder River, but the flow from the Bluemont pits would be a fraction of the river flow. Flow from the pipe would be 0 velocity and would take 3 to 6 months to dewater the pit. The south pit would also be dewatered, but not mined. Once the water level is down, any sediment would be diverted to a settling pond. The polishing site would be wetland, but MDE probably won’t allow this part of the proposal. To ensure ambient temperature, the Department would put in their own temperature monitor. Department representatives have not been privy to the engineering plans, so the picture is incomplete. The quarry owners are well aware of the special fishing opportunities the Gunpowder affords.
Ø Fall Stocking – Annual fall trout stocking is scheduled to begin the first week of October and be completed by Oct. 31st. The proposed stocking areas are the same as last year’s, but how soon stocking starts and where it occurs depends on how much rainfall the area receives. A stocking press release will not be done until stocking occurs.
Chairman Gilford made a recommendation to the Department that some of the money from recent state real estate sales be directed to the Fisheries Service budget.
Commissioner Baynard asked Mr. Early if he plans to reinitiate the hatchery tour that was planned for this fall. Mr. Early said that early March, before the spring stocking begins would be the best time to visit.
Michael Benjamin asked for walleye on the Susquehanna to be put on the next meeting’s agenda. Chairman Gilford asked Mr. Early if he knew anything about the walleye population on the Susquehanna. Mr. Early said that his staff doesn’t monitor this population, so Chairman Gilford asked that the Inland staff look at it for the next meeting.
Chairman Gilford adjourned the meeting at 9:15 p.m.