In April 2016, the department invited industry participants in the American eel fishery to discuss possible changes in management. Those in attendance expressed interest in continuing the discussion on how best to manage the eel fishery should changes become necessary. Adjustments to our management framework for eels may be needed as early as next year in order to comply with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Fishery Management Plan. Those in attendance agreed with the department that a proactive approach is ideal in this situation. We believe the best way to do this is for the industry to nominate representatives to a workgroup. Specifically, the department is seeking coordinated industry input on the management of this fishery in order to achieve the goals and objectives of the fishery’s participants. Should the department choose to move forward with advice involving regulatory change, the department will adhere to the established public process. This includes public scoping of the regulatory idea, obtaining input from both the Tidal and Sport Fisheries Advisory Commissions, and a public comment opportunity during the regulatory process.
The membership of the Eel Workgroup should be representative of the diverse interests within the commercial fishery. Nominations for each seat will be provided to the department by the industry participants: license holders that have reported eel harvest at least once in the last five years. Seats on the Eel Workgroup are arranged into 3 categories:
- Fish Dealer (1 seat) – Licensed fish dealer in Maryland that resells eels harvested in Maryland.
- Bait Fishery (2 seats) – Crabbers that harvest eels only for their personal use as bait.
- Directed Fishery (5 seats) – Fishermen that target eels and sell those eels to other fishermen or dealers. This category is sub divided into four regional seats (Upper Bay, Middle Bay, Lower Bay, Coastal) and one seasonal (late season) seat.
In addition, we will be inviting Industry Leadership, in the form of the TFAC chair, MWA President, and CBCFA president to participate on the workgroup.
- Matthew Pruitt – Fish Dealer
- Ralph Hazel – Bait Fishery
- Owen Clark – Middle Bay Fisherman
- Jimmy Trossbach – Lower Bay Fisherman
- Jimmy Hahn – Coastal Fisherman
- Steve Lay – Late Season Fisherman
- Robert T Brown – MWA President
- Billy Rice – TFAC Chair
- Aubrey Vincent – Chesapeake Bay Commercial Fisherman’s Association
The natural resources violation history of each nominee will reviewed by the department; any current member or nominee of the Eel Workgroup who accumulates 10 or more points during any two year period will be removed from the workgroup. In selecting new or replacement committee members, an individual who has acquired 10 or more points within the most recent two years will not be eligible. The department may also take into account other factors when determining eligibility, which include, but are not limited to excessive reporting violations, revocation of fishing permits, and probation before judgment dispositions for tier II and III offenses. Eligible nominees are appointed to the workgroup by the Director of Fishing and Boating Services.
- Prepare for meetings: Read distributed information prior to meetings; discuss issues with the people you represent; and prepare to communicate the viewpoints and concerns of those you represent.
- Service Between Meetings: Maintain regular communication with the people you represent, informing them of the progress and work of the Eel Workgroup.
- Work in Meetings: Attend to process; follow the agenda; suggest solutions or compromises; search for closure.
- Participate: Use the capacities and resources you possess; promote the ideas, perspectives and constituencies you represent while adhering to the purpose of the Eel Workgroup.
Term of Tenure and Selection of Future Members:
Consistent with the Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission, members are appointed to a two year term. The department will request that industry leadership conduct a comprehensive review of the membership every two years. An individual may serve more than one term.