The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has scheduled a series of public hearings on its controversial proposals to limit recreational shark fishing. NMFS announced today, Jan. 3, that it is giving people a chance to speak to it live around the country while the public comment period continues.
In an effort to rebuild stocks, NMFS announced in November that it is planning to increase the minimum size of certain shark species recreational fishermen can catch and add some reporting requirements on the fishermen. For details, see the story linked to below.
NMFS had previously scheduled two public hearings in Florida, plus ones in Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and North Carolina. Today, it announced it is rescheduling the Louisiana hearing and adding new ones in Maryland and Texas.
The Louisiana hearing will now take place on Tuesday, Jan. l5 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Belle Chasse Auditorium, 8398 Hwy. 23, Belle Chasse, LA 70037.
The Maryland hearing takes place Wednesday, Jan. 30, 5-8 p.m. at the Ocean Pines Branch, Worcester County Library, 11107 Cathell Rd., Ocean Pines, MD 21811, (410) 208-4014.
And the Texas hearing takes place Thursday, Feb. 7, 5-8 p.m. at the Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch Library, 16616 Diana Ln., Houston 77062, (281) 488-1906.
While the public is welcome to comment on any aspect of the plan or suggest alternatives, NMFS says it is particularly interested in hearing about the “administration of dusky shark bycatch caps program in select areas given limited additional observer program resources, the name of reconfigured groupings of sharks that would continue to be managed collectively in the reminder of what is currently the large coastal shark complex for quota monitoring purposes, suggestions for improving angler identification of shark species and reducing dusky shark mortality in the recreational fishery, and whether NMFS should permit the transit of closed areas if certain otherwise prohibited gear is properly stowed and inoperable.”
Anyone may show up and comment. For details, see http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-01-03/html/2012-31629.htm.