DIFW’s fisheries working group dived into the many issues of Maine’s Heritage waters where native brook trout and charr are protected, at the group’s meeting on March 13. Francis Brautigam, DIFW’s fisheries division director, chairs the meetings and leads the discussion.
A few weeks ago Francis made some important promises to the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, and will report back to that committee in October.
One key promise was to protect the tributaries to Heritage waters, but that was not discussed on March 13. Francis gave working group members the draft of a “Shared Vision for the Heritage Law.” Most of the meeting was spent discussing this issue.
Working group members significantly improved and strengthened the vision statement.
While Francis would like to remove the legislature from the Heritage waters process, working group members opposed that. Gary Corson offered a good history of the issue and emphasized that “we are not there yet where we can leave this to the department.”
Some of the discussion involved stocking charr in Heritage waters, which would require taking the water off the Heritage list which prohibits stocking. Working group members suggested looking for waters not on the Heritage list which would provide good habitat for charr.
Francis and the group agreed to meet with a few key leaders of the baitfish community to discuss baiting issues and concerns. Most do not believe there will be any significant opposition to banning the use of live fish as bait in the small tributaries to Heritage waters. DIFW staff is confident that bait is not now used in those tributaries.
Francis reported that they are working on significant changes to the rules and laws governing the collection, storage, and sale of bait, including new rules and laws governing bait holding pens and schedules for when bait can be captured.