Oct 31, 2013

Elver fisheries reform: mtgs Nov 18 & 19 draft rule: catchers & buyers to use state-issued swipe card for all sales.

Elvers blocked by dam. Some will make it over.
Proposed new elver fishery rules are the topic at DMR meetings on November 18, 2013, 6:00 PM, in Yarmouth, and November 19th, 6:00 PM, EllsworthDeadline for comments: December 2, 2013.

 Proposed rules online (pdf) **  DMR Rulemaking page  See copy of draft elver fish rules below, with boldfacing and paragraph breaks added for ease of reading.  

If adopted, (1) elver harvesters & dealers must use a swipe card reporting system supplied by DMR. (2) Dealers must electronically report quantities to DMR weekly.  (3) DMR's authority to suspend dealer licenses would be clarified,  (4) DMR would establish closed areas for elver fishing  in Penobscot and Hancock Counties. (5) Rules would be harmonized with the ASMFCs  Addendum III of the interstate eel fishery mgmt plan for glass,
yellow, and silver) and recreational eel fisheries.

Email dmr.rulemaking@maine.gov attn Kevin Rousseau   
Contacts: Heidi Bray (207) 633-9504 (for Elver Swipe Card System); Terry Stockwell (207) 624-6553 (for ASMFC Eel Compliance)
Details: http://www.maine.gov/dmr/rulemaking/

NOTICE OF AGENCY RULE-MAKING PROPOSAL
AGENCY: Department of Marine Resources
RULE TITLE OR SUBJECT: Elver Reporting Requirements and Swipe Card System; ASMFC  Eel Compliance Measures. Chapter 8 Landings Program and Chapter 32 Eels.
DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS: December 2, 2013
To ensure consideration, comments must include your name and the organization you represent, if any. Please be aware that any risk of non-delivery associated with submissions by fax or e-mail is on the sender.
 AGENCY CONTACT PERSONS: Heidi Bray (207) 633-9504 (for Elver Swipe Card System); Terry Stockwell (207) 624-6553 (for ASMFC Eel Compliance)

Mail Written Comments to: attn: K. Rousseau
AGENCY NAME: Department of Marine Resources
ADDRESS: 21 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333
WEB SITE: http://www.maine.gov/dmr/rulemaking/
 E-MAIL: dmr.rulemaking@maine.gov
TELEPHONE: (207) 624-6573  FAX: (207) 624-6024

CONCISE SUMMARY: 
The proposed regulation would enact a swipe card reporting system for elver dealers and require dealers to maintain records of all elver transactions. The purpose of this portion of the proposed rule is to obtain more accurate and timely information on the amount of elvers caught or landed in Maine for use in fisheries management as well as to demonstrate the social and economic importance of marine resources to Maine. The swipe card system is also a more secure system in which harvesters and dealers cannot easily conduct transactions to sell or purchase illegal elvers.

The proposed rule would require elver harvester license holders to present a swipe card to be used by the dealer in order to record each transaction. It would also require dealers to report what they receive from harvesters on a weekly basis during the elver harvesting season using approved electronic reporting methods. Dealers will be required to provide their own computers for reporting (laptops or PC’s), but the reporting software and the swipe card readers/receipt printers will be provided by DMR. In addition, this rule would require elver dealers to maintain paper records for all elver transactions, including dealer-to-dealer transactions, for three years.

Emergency rulemaking was enacted earlier in 2013 that required elver dealers to report quantities on a weekly basis. Previously, elver dealer license holders were required to report information to DMR on a monthly basis. Weekly electronic reporting of elver landings will give the DMR timely and critical information for enforcement and resource protection of this valuable fishery. Finally, this rule would also update the reporting compliance section with license suspension authority that was enacted in state law as well as update the primary buyer permit language.

This regulation also makes amendments in order to come into compliance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) American Eel Management Board August 2013 approval of Addendum III to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for American Eel. The State of Maine is mandated to implement and enforce fisheries management plans of the ASMFC under the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act of 1993 (ACFCMA). These changes are reflected in this proposed new version of Chapter 32 Eels.

Addendum III establishes a 9” minimum size limit for recreational and commercial yellow eel fisheries, trip-level reporting for the commercial yellow eel fishery, a seasonal closure of silver eel fisheries, a 25 recreational fish per day creel limit, and measures to restrict the development of fisheries on pigmented eels. It also calls for the implementation of state-specific monitoring
programs and provides recommendations for habitat improvements. States will be required to implement the Addendum’s measures by January 1, 2014. The Board’s actions respond to the findings of the 2012 benchmark stock assessment indicating the American eel population in U.S. waters is depleted. The stock has declined in recent decades and the prevalence of significant downward trends in multiple surveys across the coast is cause for concern. Many of these changes required by ASMFC are already implied in existing Maine law and regulations and therefore do not need to be changed. In some cases, Maine law and regulations are stronger than the new ASMFC compliance requirements.

A re-ordering and deletion of obsolete or redundant sections of Chapter 32 Eels are proposed in order to improve readability and compliance. Finally, closed areas for elver fishing are proposed to be added in Penobscot and Hancock County in order to clarify legal fishing boundaries in Chapter 32.03(1)(A). Little or no impact on legal elver harvesting is expected from these new area closures.

End of proposed Rule 

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