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News Release
RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462

For Release: December 12, 2006
Contact: Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418

DEM ANNOUNCES NEW COMMERCIAL FISHING LICENSE/ENDORSEMENT OPPORTUNITIES, INCLUDING 43 NEW QUAHOG LICENSES
New Regulations Also Include Increase in Basic Quahog Harvest Level, and Changes Relating to Upgrading and Obtaining New Licenses

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management announces that, as part of new regulations that take effect at the end of the month, six types of new commercial fishing license/endorsement opportunities will be available for 2006.

Five of those opportunities are the same as those that have been available since 2003, when the new licensing program went into effect. They are: non-restricted finfish endorsements, non-quahog shellfish endorsements, non-lobster crustacean endorsements, student shellfish licenses, and over-65 shellfish licenses.

One additional license/endorsement opportunity is being made available for 2006: forty-three new quahog endorsements on commercial fishing licenses will be issued. As detailed in the 2006 Management Plan for the Shellfish Fishery Sector, the additional endorsements are based on the most recent stock assessment for the Narragansett Bay quahog resource, which found that biomass has been relatively constant since the mid 1990s, while fishing mortality rates have dropped over the past six years. Accordingly, DEM finds that the fishery can withstand a modest increase in effort.

DEM is again employing a 3:1 exit/entry ratio in the shellfish fishery, allowing for the issuance of one new license/endorsement for every three that are retired. That ratio, when applied to the 130 licenses with quahog endorsements that were not renewed in 2005, results in the availability of 43 new quahog licenses/endorsements for 2006.

Additional information regarding the licensing program, including a guidance document for applicants seeking one of the new quahog endorsements, is available on DEM's website. Applications for the new licenses will be accepted beginning January 3.

DEM is also increasing the basic harvest level for quahogs in all management areas, applicable to holders of commercial fishing licenses with quahog endorsements, student shellfish licenses, and over 65 shellfish licenses, from a daily possession limit of 1.5 bushels per day to 3 bushels per day.

The new regulations also include changes relating to the upgrading of licenses; the process for achieving priority status for those seeking new licenses; the basis for obtaining a new license by a family member or crew member of an active license holder who is retiring; and the basis for obtaining a new license upon the sale of a vessel and gear by an active license holder who is retiring. Specifically, the changes:
  • Delete the 50-day provision from the "actively fishing" and "actively participating" standards;


  • Allow student shellfish license holders to automatically transition to commercial fishing licenses with quahog endorsements after actively fishing for two years or more;


  • Allow commercial fishing license holders to upgrade to principal effort licenses after actively fishing for two years or more;


  • Refine the first-tier priority status category for new endorsements on commercial fishing licenses by limiting it to license holders already fishing in the same fishery sector for which a new endorsement is sought; and shift other license holders already fishing in other sectors into the second-tier priority status category;


  • Allow any qualified family member or crew member of a license holder who has been actively fishing and is retiring to obtain a new commercial fishing license in the same fishery(s) that was/were being fished by the retiree; and


  • Expand the pool of individuals eligible to obtain a new license upon the sale of a vessel and gear to include principal effort license holders and crew members.
The new licensing regulations, as well as the updated management plans for the shellfish, finfish, and crustacean fishery sectors, upon which the regulations are based, are available on DEM's website, www.dem.ri.gov, by clicking on "Marine Fisheries" under "Topics". License/endorsement questions may also be directed to DEM's Office of Boat Registration and Licensing at 222-6647.

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