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RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462
DEM ANNOUNCES NEW COMMERCIAL FISHING LICENSE/ENDORSEMENT OPPORTUNITIES, INCLUDING 43 NEW QUAHOG LICENSES
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: