National Fisherman


The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is repealing and rewriting every management plan that regulates development in the state’s wildlife refuges, sanctuaries, and critical habitat areas, known collectively as special areas. These areas were established by the Alaska Legislature to protect valuable concentrations of fish and wildlife and their critical habitats from incompatible land uses. Gov. Sean Parnell and his director of Habitat Division, Randy Bates, are revising the regulations in secret, with no public input.
 
Fish and Game biologists issue land-use permits in accordance with the enforceable regulations in the management plans, which generally encapsulate the advice of experts and public input during the planning process.
 
Unlike state or national parks, the existing management plans are rarely prohibitive. Most regulations allow activities providing they meet certain criteria, such as protecting critical habitats or avoiding disturbance during nesting or other sensitive periods. Biologists work with permit applicants and other experts to find acceptable conditions that will allow projects to be approved.
 
Habitat Division’s record is remarkable. From 2008 to 2013 the division received nearly 700 permit applications for land-use activities in special areas. Of these, only four projects -- less than 1 percent -- were deemed incompatible with adopted management  plans or regulations.
 
That’s not nearly permissive enough for Bates. In an October 2013 email, he told his staff to eliminate all regulations that posed “unnecessary burdens to the affected public.” According to Bates, one of the affected publics is people who want to operate jet skis in the Kachemak Bay Critical Habitat Area.
 
Read the full story at the Alaska Dispatch>>

Inside the Industry

NOAA recently published a proposed rule that would implement a traceability plan to help combat IUU fishing. The program would seek to trace the origins of imported seafood by setting up reporting and filing procedures for products entering the U.S.

The traceability program would collect data on harvest, landing, and chain of custody of fish and fish products that have been identified as particularly vulnerable to IUU fishing and fraud.

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The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

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