AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will hold public hearings on the proposed regulation changes to the upcoming open water and ice fishing seasons.
Public hearings will be held at 6:30 p.m.:
— Monday, July 21, at Fort Kent Community High School, 84 Pleasant St.
— Tuesday, July 22, at Greenville Town Office, meeting hall room, 7 Minden St.
— Wednesday, July 23, at Princeton Town Office, conference room, 15 Depot St.
— Thursday, July 24, Fireside Inn, 1777 Washington Street South, next to Interstate 95, Auburn.
A full list of proposed regulation changes can be found online at www.mefishwildlife.com or by contacting Becky Orff at 284 State St., 41 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0041, by email at email@example.com or by telephone at (207) 287-5202. Anyone who is unable to attend a public hearing may submit written comments on any of the proposals to Becky Orff.
The proposals, if adopted, will become effective Jan. 1, 2015. The department is also proposing regulation changes to waters that will then become listed as State Heritage Fish waters.
Highlights of the proposed regulation changes include:
— Apply State Heritage Fish protections to several newly surveyed brook trout ponds.
— Provide additional protection to high-quality brook trout waters by minimizing the opportunity to transport invasive fish. This will be achieved by prohibiting baitfish trapping on several new lakes and river systems.
— Simplify the regulation framework for General Law management of bass by consolidating the current three-tiered system that uses changing dates and bag limits into a single year-round regulation.
— Modify the current S-15 special rule by expanding the protective length slot limit and reducing the daily bag limit to provide more protection to large bass in certain lakes. This proposal also simplifies the S-15 rule by making it consistent on a year-round basis.
— Modify the list of complimentary license holders eligible to fish in S-9 waters, formerly restricted to children only. This change will more closely reflect the department’s intent to provide additional special fishing opportunities to anglers with physical or cognitive disabilities.
— Provide additional harvest restrictions on smelts in Beech Hill Pond, Otis, to maximize the availability of this important forage for landlocked salmon and togue.
— Expand early open water season fishing opportunity in several lakes in the Moosehead Lake area by eliminating their special May 1 opening dates and replacing them with April 1 (General Law).