February 28 legislative hearings feature exotic animals, fish hatcheries, and more

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 The legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee will host public hearings on three of my bills on Tuesday, February 28, along with three other bills.

LD 305, my exotic animals bill, is sponsored by IFW Committee chair, Senator Scott Cyrway of Kennebec Country, and promises to draw a substantial crowd in opposition. This bill has definitely riled up the folks who like exotic animals. The bill would require permits to possess all exotic animals in Maine, and require the owners of exotics to notify their neighbors and the Maine Warden Service if their exotic animal gets loose. It seems incredible to me that you can be fined if your dog runs loose, but not your python.

LD 425, my fall fishing bill, is sponsored by Representative Russell Black of Wilton. This bill would expand the opportunities to fish in the fall, by opening up October fishing in areas where that is now prohibited, with strict catch-and-release rules. It will be very beneficial to sporting camps and others in rural Maine, and recognize that there are years, like this one, in which water levels were so low and temperatures so high that fishing in September was terrible. In fact, DIF&W issued a press release urging us not to fish during the day!

LD 471, my hatchery commission bill, is sponsored by Representative Jared Golden of Lewiston. It would create a Commission to Study the Needs, Opportunities and Efficiencies Associated the Production of Salmonid Sport Fish in Maine. The 10-member commission would be composed of two legislators, DIF&W’s Commissioner (or his representative) and Hatchery Superintendent, member of the F&W Advisory Council, representatives of a fish and game club and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, a representative from the aquaculture industry, and two licensed anglers.

The Commission’s duties would include assessing and evaluating salmonid fish culture facilities in Maine and associated production and distribution capabilities, opportunities, needs, and contributions to Maine’s economy. The Commission would be required to submit its report and any accompanying legislation to the Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife by January 15, 2018. No major expenditures over $150,000 could be made to repair or upgrade DIF&W’s hatcheries until the report is received and acted on.

Other Bills

Other bills heard that day are LDs 342, 359, and 547.

LD 342, An Act to Require the Use of Personal Flotation Devices in Canoes, is sponsored by Senator Maker of Washington County. It would require the use of a Coast Guard approved Type I, Type II, or Type III personal flotation device while canoeing.

LD 359, An Act to Protect Maine Lakes and Ponds from Invasive Species, is sponsored by Representative Ginzler of Bridgton. It requires that any passive watercraft placed or operated on inland waters of the State have an invasive aquatic plant and nuisance species sticker affixed on its bow. These stickers, which cost $5, are now required on motorized boats, but not watercraft without motors.

LD 547, An Act to Update Maine’s Fishing Laws, is sponsored by Senator Cyrway. I’m assuming it is a DIF&W bill. It would:

1)     

Prohibit a person from altering fish, including smelts, from their natural state until after a wet measure has been conducted;

2)     

Replaces the term ‘alewives’ with the term ‘river herring’ to be more consistent with Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife usage. The definition of river herring includes both alewives and blueback herring;

3)     

Removes several species from the definition of baitfish that do not exist in the waters of the State, are not commonly used or sold in the State or are found in very localized areas and should not be used as bait due to the possibility of introduction into other areas with adverse effects.

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