DIF&W is proposing sixty seven pages of fishing rule changes that, if adopted, will take effect in 2017. All of the rule changes are available on the agency’s website, and public hearings on the proposals will be held in July and August.
The changes impact both ice and open water fishing, and some are designed to simplify the fishing law book. Commissioner Chandler Woodcock informed members of the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee that his agency would simplify the rule book for 2017, and simplify the rules the following year. That seemed backward to me, given that the rule book would be simpler if the rules were simpler.
The Department is also proposing modifications and additions of waters to the State Heritage Fish waters list. There’s been a bit of controversy lately about this. Maine Audubon has led an effort to survey remote ponds, to find out if they hold a viable population of our native brook trout. And in many cases, thankfully, the answer is yes. Yet DIF&W refuses to put many of those ponds on the Heritage List, with protective rules for those brookies, insisting that their own fisheries biologists must survey the ponds before they go on the list.
It seems to me the better strategy would be to list and protect those ponds, until the agency gets around to surveying them. In fact, they’ve done that with a few ponds, so their approach is not consistent.
Five public hearings are scheduled on all the rule changes, giving you a chance to weigh in. You can read through the rule change proposals here.
July 26, 2016 @ 6:30 p.m. – Northeastland Hotel, Red Room 436 Main Street, Presque Isle
July 27, 2016 @ 6:30 pm – Stearns High School, Auditorium 199 State Street, Millinocket
July 28, 2016 @ 6:30 pm – Ramada, Breakfast Room 215 High Street, Rt. 1 & 3, Ellsworth
August 2, 2016 @ 6:30pm – University of Maine Farmington, Olson Student Center N. Dining Hall B, 111 South Street, Farmington
August 4, 2016 @ 6:30pm – Comfort Inn, Breakfast Room 199 Pleasant St, Brunswick
You can also submit written comments to the agency, directed to Becky Orff, Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, 284 State Street, #41 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333; firstname.lastname@example.org . Your comments must be received by August 17.
The Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council and DIF&W’s Commissioner must agree on the rule changes before they are official, and that process will be conducted in the fall, in time for the changes to be incorporated into the 2017 rule book.