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PostPosted: November 21st, 2018, 11:42 pm 
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DIFW has scheduled two public meetings to discuss a potential set of rule changes to improve protection of native trout from accidental release of bait fish. Hope to see some FFIMers there.

See their press release below.


Public informational meeting dates and locations are provided below:

December 12, from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM, at the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine office at 205 Church Hill Road in Augusta
December 19, from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM, at the MDIFW’s Ashland Regional Headquarters at 63 Station Street in Ashland


There is a full report that provides much of the rationale for this here: https://www.maine.gov/ifw/docs/Final%20Progress%20Report%20F-W%20Legislative%20Committee%20LD%201236%209-27-18.pdf



MDIFW To Host Two Wild Trout Conservation Strategy Informational Meetings


On October 11, 2018, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife publicly announced (MDIFW Exploring Strategies to Enhance Protections for Brook Trout and Arctic Charr While Preserving Traditional Fishing Methods and Fishing Economies) ongoing efforts to explore the development of a wild trout conservation strategy for Maine’s North Region and will host two informational meetings on the strategy. This initiative was in response to direction provided by the 128th Fish and Wildlife Legislative Committee to enhance wild trout protections by reducing unintended introductions of baitfish and other fish that compete with native trout.


The department is hosting two public informational meetings to discuss the conservation strategy in Augusta and Ashland. These meetings are not part of a formal rulemaking process, but instead are intended to provide the public with an opportunity to share thoughts on the conservation of this important resource.


The conservation strategy being discussed, would result in a change to the general law in the Northern Region (Franklin, Somerset, Piscataquis, Aroostook, and northern portions of Oxford and Penobscot Counties) to further protect wild trout waters, including tributaries and outlets of heritage ponds in the North Region, while preserving meaningful opportunities to fish with traditional live baitfish methods in northern Maine. A change to General Law will be easy to understand by the public and should increase compliance. Under this approach, waters currently open to ice fishing and use of live fish as bait would remain open and assigned a special regulation that would allow use of live fish as bait. Live fish as bait would continue to be allowed on those same waters during the open water fishing season.


The change would prohibit use of live fish as bait, except where designated by special rule, reducing the chance of any new introductions of baitfish and other fish in the vast majority of flowing waters, dead-waters, small ponds. The change would also eliminate most of the “no live fish as bait” special s-code listings currently applied in the law book to waters in the Northern Region. Additional waters will be considered where there is a tradition of fishing with live fish as bait.


Public informational meeting dates and locations are provided below:

December 12, from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM, at the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine office at 205 Church Hill Road in Augusta
December 19, from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM, at the MDIFW’s Ashland Regional Headquarters at 63 Station Street in Ashland
In the event of inclement weather meeting cancellations will be posted on the Department’s website and Facebook (www.mefishwildlife.com).


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PostPosted: November 22nd, 2018, 10:19 pm 
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Thanks for posting Jeff.

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Scott


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PostPosted: December 11th, 2018, 11:00 pm 
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Just kicking this to the top. First meeting is tomorrow night, 12/12, 6:30, at SAM in Augusta.


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PostPosted: December 12th, 2018, 7:20 am 
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Jeff, do you have an email to send written comments to? I cant seem to find one specifically for this.

Peter

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PostPosted: December 12th, 2018, 10:06 am 
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There is not a specific formal comment period, but you could send email to Director of Fisheries Francis Brautigam: francis.brautigam@maine.gov


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PostPosted: December 16th, 2018, 9:46 am 
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Here is a good article from John Holyoke on this topic.

https://bangordailynews.com/2018/12/14/outdoors/its-time-for-maine-to-take-brook-trout-protection-seriously/

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PostPosted: December 16th, 2018, 11:02 am 
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And another from Deirdre Fleming today.https://www.pressherald.com/2018/12/16/maine-considers-additional-protection-for-wild-trout-waters/


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PostPosted: December 21st, 2018, 7:23 am 
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The two Public Information Meetings took place--last week in Augusta, and this Wednesday in Ashland. I attended both, and spoke at the Augusta meeting.

Augusta--There were about 50 attendees. After the Department's presentation--which has a lot of information--there was considerable discussion. The primary questions, with DIFW responses were:

(1) Will this affect anything in southern Maine? No. It applies only in the northern zone.
(2) Will this change ice fishing opportunities in the northern zone? No. Waters currently open to ice fishing will remain open, and those that allow live fish as bait today will continue to.
(3) What's the problem? Why is this necessary? Francis gave examples of live bait impacts on wild or reclaimed trout ponds including Big Reed, Wadleigh, Bald Mountain Pond, and one of the Sebago TU "5 in 5" reclaimed ponds where bait were reintroduced with big impacts on brook trout. In my comments I added the example of Thissell Pond, where introduction of smelts led to reclamation.
(4) There were a number of questions about individual waters. The Department reiterated that any waters open to ice fishing with live bait today, or where there is strong evidence of existing use of live fish as bait in the open water season, would remain open. If a formal rulemaking follows, there would be a list of those waters that would now have a "Special" rule allowing use of live fish as bait.

Lots of people spoke, and other than the questions above, most of the comments were favorable. Towards the end of the hearing Greg Ponte asked for a show of hands of "who supports this" and most (but not all) of the attendees raised their hands.

Ashland. There were about 30 attendees. The Department presentation was the same. Questions followed the same pattern as above with the same answers, with two differences that I noticed. Again, most of the people who spoke supported the approach the Department is suggesting.

(1) Wade Kelly, who guides on the St. John for muskies, raised questions about the ability to take baitfish out of the St. John. He very much wanted to be able to harvest bait by hook and line to use for musky fishing. He also questioned some boundaries on where you can and cannot harvest bait and whether they needed to be shifted. He also told me afterwards that smallmouth bass are now established in the Allagash as far upstream as Allagash Falls. :(
(2) Several attendees, including the owner of a set of sporting camps on Ross Stream, wanted the Department to go farther, particularly on the Allagash. The Department indicated they would likely be going forward with rule making on this proposal, but were not considering major changes at this time.
(3) There was a lot of discussion about the challenges of managing personal harvest of live bait. Matt Libby told the story of flying a party of guests from one of their remote camps into another lake. The group had put out a bait trap to harvest their own bait for the trip, and Matt noticed a number of yellow perch in their bait bucket. He was very concerned that a similar incident could move yellow perch from the Aroostook watershed, where they are well established, to the Allagash, which does not have perch. Jen Brophy from Red River Camps asked if the Department has considered rules where personally harvested bait could only be used on the water where it was captured. The Department acknowledged there were might be additional work on baitfish isssues, but that would not be part of the current proposal.


After the Ashland meeting, Deputy Commissioner Peabody indicated the Department would likely go ahead with a formal rulemaking proposal sometime this winter.


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PostPosted: December 21st, 2018, 10:57 am 
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Jeff Reardon wrote:
Matt Libby told the story of flying a party of guests from one of their remote camps into another lake. The group had put out a bait trap to harvest their own bait for the trip, and Matt noticed a number of yellow perch in their bait bucket.


What the?? IFW should have been notified immediately and I hope they were. Clearly an example of "transporting."

From their website:

"If you see or suspect someone is moving live fish, contact the Maine Warden Service immediately at 1-800-ALERT-US or report the offense at MaineOGT.org."


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PostPosted: December 21st, 2018, 3:08 pm 
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I don't know what Matt did at the time--he did say he educated the guests about Maine's legal bait and cleaned out the perch before taking off to shuttle them to the other lake.

I've been at several similar meetings or hearings where Matt has shared this story with DIFW staff.


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