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  1. #1
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    TWRC Meeting/Commercial Fishing

    Does anyone have the results of the TWRC meeting on commercial fishing? I hope it was soundly defeated.

  2. #2
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    RE: TWRC Meeting/Commercial Fishing

    Hi

    Found this on Knoxnews.com:

    Longer size limits, but shorter season

    TWRC gives paddlefish fishermen bit of a break

    By BOB HODGE, Hodge@knews.com

    October 2, 2005

    Tennessee's paddlefish have a little more protection and commercial fishermen chasing them earned a compromise on regulations.
    Meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission placed stricter limits on commercial fishermen, but not as strict as biologists with Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency were after. The biggest changes for 2005-2006 are longer size limits and a shorter season.

    "We didn't get all we wanted, but it was a giant step forward," said Bill Reeves, TWRA chief of fisheries. "Now we are in a planning mode and not a reactive mode. We can go forward and not be looking over our shoulders."

    While commercial fishermen pursue catfish, buffalo and other species, it's paddlefish that make the big dollars. Paddlefish roe is sought for caviar, and over the years studies have shown Tennessee's paddlefish populations are declining.

    The pressure put on paddlefish varies with the market price of the roe.

    "It's a boom-and-bust cycle," Reeves said.

    The paddlefish season will begin Nov. 15 and continue through April 15. The minimum size limit will increase from 34 to 36 inches - measured from the eye to the fork of the tail - and that is expected to increase again.

    "We want to go to 38 inches in the next three years," Reeves said.

    TWRA biologists wanted the season to close April 1 on Tennessee River reservoirs and stay open to April 15 on the Mississippi River. Reeves said studies have shown that mortality of undersized fish goes up as water temperatures rise, and the earlier closing date would preserve more fish.

    Commercial fishermen argued rainy winter weather often keeps them at home, so what looks like a long season is actually much shorter.

    "We're talking about an average of 27 days that we can fish," said Mike Kelly of Savannah, Tenn.

    Alan Fine, a commercial fisherman from Chattanooga, said he was satisfied with the new regulations.

    "I think it was a good compromise," Fine said. "I think it was good for the fishermen and it was good for the agency."

    Some East Tennessee commercial fishermen have lobbied to open Watts Bar, Norris and Cherokee lakes to netting operations. The item, which was a nonstarter at the commission's August meeting, was not on the agenda and did not come up for discussion.

    TWRC also voted to limit the number of paddlefish permits that will be sold. Reeves cited the state's mussel industry as an example of high prices leading to an explosion in the sales of commercial mussel licenses. When prices fell so did license sales, but the resource had been damaged.

    In 2006, 110 paddlefish permits will be available, which is expected to be more than the demand. In 2007, the number of available permits will be 110 percent of 2006 sales. Previous paddlefish permit holders will retain their rights to permits year to year.

    When sport-fishing regulations are set next month in Nashville the only change in East Tennessee will be in Gatlinburg. Reeves said Gatlinburg officials are asking the minimum age requirement city's permit be raised from 9-years-old to 13-years-old.

    "They are wanting to get more kids involved in fishing up there and that's a good thing," Reeves said. "The hope is raising the age requirement does that."


  3. #3
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    RE: TWRC Meeting/Commercial Fishing

    Thanks for the information.



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