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Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 10:21am

DNR Board Takes Over Saltwater Fishing Rules

The state Board of Natural Resources is set to take over regulation of saltwater fishing in Georgia.

A public meeting Thursday evening in Riceboro will explain the new approach and answer questions about one proposed rule change.

Until now, control over saltwater finfish species has been split between the General Assembly, the Department of Natural Resources board and its commissioner. But lawmakers changed that starting in January 2013. The board can now regulate saltwater fish the same way it does with freshwater species.

“The legislature only meets January through March – a 40-day session during those three months – and if there’s certain things that we would like to do that are controlled solely by the legislature, we’ve got to get in line with all the other very important bills,” said Doug Haymans, policy coordinator in Coastal Resources Division. “And sometimes things get hung up in politics.”

Haymans said the DNR requested the authority in this year’s legislative session. He said it result in more opportunities for public involvement.

“The Board of Natural Resources has to put things out for public comment, whether it be written comment or verbal comment at a public hearing. The Administrative Procedures Act requires that,” Haymans said. “So the public has more of a role, more input, under board authority than it did under the legislature.”

The DNR is also setting up an advisory panel of anglers and fishing guides to suggest and evaluate changes to saltwater fishing regulations. It will be similar to other advisory panels set up for marine fish, blue crabs and shrimp.

Current recreational saltwater fishing rules will remain unchanged when the board takes over Jan. 1.

The board will make one commercial rule change immediately: increasing the amount of bait that dealers can transport from 50 to 200 quarts.