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From the Desk of John Clark, Fisheries Section Administrator, Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife
I hope you are well on this rainy start to the Labor Day weekend. I am wondering if you can help us out by getting feedback from your readers and members about the following tog and black sea bass issues. The tog issue has been out there for several months; we had a public hearing in Lewes on July 6, but we did not have the modified Option D, which was only finalized this past week. One additional piece of information for the tog fishery is that NJ will NOT be changing from their 15″ size limit. Although the NY-NJ region needs to reduce their harvest by 2%, NJ will reduce the season rather than increase the size, so we can either be consistent in size with NJ or consistent in size, possession, and season with MD and VA.
The Black Sea Bass issue seemed to be settled at the August joint ASMFC – MAFMC meeting in Philadelphia, at which time the 2018 Wave 1 fishery was not approved, but there is now a push from NJ and NY to reconsider a February-only Wave 1 fishery.
Thanks for your help.
Background: ASMFC is in the process of approving Draft Amendment 1 to the Tautog Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP). This plan will manage Tautog regionally rather than as a single coast-wide stock. Delaware will be in the Delmarva Region with Maryland and Virginia. The Amendment has several management options for the recreational fishery in the Delmarva Region that can be found on page 82 of the Draft Amendment (http://www.asmfc.org/files/PublicInput/Tautog_DraftAmendment1_PublicComment_May2017.pdf) and were discussed at the public hearing in July. Based on public comments received at the hearings in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, the three states have added an option, which is a variation on Option D in the table on page 82. Which of the following two options do you prefer?
Status Quo Option: Delaware remains with its current regulations
Modified Option D: Our minimum size increases by 1”, our possession limit decreases for most of our open season to 4 fish, but we gain 48 days of open season
16” Minimum Size
4 fish possession
Jan. 1 to May 15
July 1 – December 31
Black Sea Bass
Background: Other states, particularly New Jersey and New York, would like to open the recreational Black Sea Bass fishery during Wave 1 (Wave 1= January through February). They state that Black Sea Bass are plentiful during Wave 1 and opening the fishery during the Wave or part of the Wave would give an additional fishing opportunity to anglers. A proposal has been put forward to open a Wave 1 Recreational Black Sea Bass season for the month of February 2018. Black Sea Bass would close again on March 1, 2018, then reopen in May. The upside of this is that it would be possible to fish for Black Sea Bass during February. The downside is that the Black Sea Bass harvested during February would have to be accounted for during the rest of the season, so the season may open a few days later in May or close a few days earlier in September. Are you in favor of a Wave 1 Black Sea Bass season in 2018?
If you would like to send your answers in you can email them to DNRECFisheriesRegs@state.de.us … I went to the tautog public comment period it was on the same day and time as two other meetings I had to attend. There were about four people there. We need more bodies at these meetings. The recreational anglers in Delaware number over three hundred thousand each year. It is mind boggling when only a handful of people attend these public comment period meetings. If you want to make a difference or changes to better our fishery, you have to attend meetings or at least submit public comments. Menhaden are up for public comment next week on the 14th in Dover. That will be an important comment period to attend as well or email your input.