We are changing our approach to communication with our stakeholders on the coast. As the fishing interests on the coast have become increasingly diverse - from kayak fishing in the bays to shark fishing offshore; from commercial crabbing in Chincoteague to federal squid, mackerel, butterfish permit holders required to have VMS on their vessels - the issues addressing the coast have become too diverse to be covered by one Coastal Fisheries Advisory Committee (CFAC). As a result, we will be tabling CFAC while we try a new approach.
We are going to hold public forums during the spring and fall of each year so that we can touch base about what we're working on that you may be interested in, progress on issues you've previously brought to us, as well as new issues you may want to ask us about. While we may present information during some of the forums, we expect them largely to be open discussions, with you bringing topics to us. Initially, we will hold two forums: one for commercial issues and one for recreational issues. Should there be interest in holding one forum for all coastal issues, we may do so in the future.
As always, should there be something you have concerns about between forums, don't hesitate to contact Angel Willey (Angel.Willey@maryland.gov). In the meantime, the Sport Fisheries Advisory Commission and Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission meet regularly; each commission has representatives from the coastal community and they are another avenue for bringing important topics to the Department. We will continue to have public hearings on regulatory issues, and ASMFC and MAFMC staff will continue to host hearings for public comment on their actions.
Please let Angel Willey know if you are interested in receiving information about the forums via email. Indicate in the body of the email whether you're interested in commercial issues or recreational issues. Also, let us know if there is an issue important to you that you'd like to discuss so that we can be as prepared as possible to answer your questions. With so many possible issues to discuss, any advance interest is appreciated.