DNREC Fisheries to Hold Aug. 27 Public Hearing on State Fisherman Registry Regulations

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DNREC Fisheries to Hold Aug. 27 Public Hearing on State Fisherman Registry RegulationsThe Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will hold a public hearing regarding proposed new regulations that would establish state fisherman registries at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27 in the DNREC Auditorium, Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover. The new regulations would go into effect Jan. 1, 2009.

In order to improve upon present means of determining recreational catch and effort in marine waters, Congress authorized the National Marine Fisheries Service to compile a nationwide registry of all anglers fishing in saltwater beginning in 2009 and to begin charging for participation in this registry as of 2011. According to existing federal plans, fees generated by this program will be deposited in the federal treasury and not returned to the states.

“These proposed additions to Delaware’s tidal and non-tidal fishing regulations will allow us to meet these new federal requirements, with no additional cost to our anglers,” said DNREC Fisheries Section Administrator Roy Miller. “The federal National Marine Fisheries Service has been tasked to identify saltwater anglers for survey purposes. If we can provide a complete registry of Delaware’s marine recreational fishermen from our state-issued fishing license program, our anglers will be exempt from participating in the federal registry and federal license fees.”

Delaware Code currently requires a general fishing license to fish in tidal and non-tidal waters, and license applications contain most of the information needed for a state registry, with one important exception. “Under the new regulations, the first question we would ask our license applicants is ‘fresh, salt or both?’ Presently we have no way to determine this, and the Fisheries Service is only looking for saltwater angler information,” Miller said. 

A complete registry would also need to include Delaware saltwater anglers who are not legally required to have a fishing license, or National Marine Fisheries would classify Delaware as non-exempt. Current Delaware fishing license regulations allow the holder of a recreational boat license to take any number of non-licensed anglers with them on the licensed vessel, and therefore these unlicensed anglers would not be included in a database of Delaware anglers. In addition, resident senior citizens age 65 and older also are exempt from Delaware recreational fishing license requirements. 

Therefore, to avoid a federal determination that Delaware is a non-exempt state, the proposed regulation will establish a state-level registration process, to be known as the F.I.N number (Fisherman Information Network), for all anglers fishing in Delaware. 

The new regulation would require all prospective Delaware anglers age 16 or older, licensed or not, to obtain a F.I.N number on an annual basis before fishing in Delaware waters. This requirement is similar to a federal registration system known as the Hunter Information Program (H.I.P.) for all who intend to hunt migratory birds.  

DNREC Fisheries to Hold Aug. 27 Public Hearing on State Fisherman Registry RegulationsThe F.I.N. number would be available at no cost to anglers by calling a toll free number or by providing requested information online. Anglers would be asked for their name, address, phone number and whether they intend to fish in freshwater, tidal water or both. Each person who requests a F.I.N. number should write this number on his or her Delaware fishing license, or for those who are legally unlicensed, be able to produce this number when asked by an authorized enforcement agent. 

Both the website address and toll-free number would be advertised and made readily available to all Delaware anglers. 

Once all Delaware fishermen have obtained a F.I.N. number and the National Marine Fisheries Service has a copy of Delaware’s saltwater angler registry, Delaware will be exempt from the federal marine recreational fishing registry and charges.

Individuals may present opinions and evidence either at the public hearing or in writing to Lisa Vest, Hearing Officer, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901 or via e-mail to Lisa [dot] Vest [at] state [dot] de [dot] us.  The hearing record will remain open for written or e-mail comments until 4:30 p.m. Aug. 31, 2008.

For more information, please contact the Division of Fish and Wildlife, Fisheries Section, at 302-739-3441.