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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: February 21, 2012
Contact: Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402

DEM REVISES REGULATIONS SO THAT FELT-SOLED FOOT GEAR IS PROHIBITED ONLY IN STATE FRESHWATERS

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management has filed a technical revision to the 2012-2013 Freshwater Fishing Regulations related to the use of felt-soled foot gear in State waters.

DEM's Division of Fish and Wildlife has modified the regulation prohibiting the use of foot gear with external felt soles so that it applies only to the fresh waters of the State. The technical revision becomes effective immediately. The revision was made once it became apparent that an all-waters ban on the use of felt-soled foot gear was not intended by the Department in adopting this regulation.

"DEM supports regulations that add a strong measure of prevention to the establishment and spread of exotic invasive species," noted DEM Director Janet Coit. "The Department will continue to work in partnership with Rhode Island saltwater anglers and other constituency groups to address the problems caused by invasive species and develop measures to protect our state's waters and the native plant and animal communities which inhabit them."

DEM will conduct public workshops next month on the proposed 2013-2014 Freshwater Fishing Regulations and 2012-2013 Hunting Regulations prior to the public hearing, which will take place in June. At the workshops, DEM anticipates that there will be further discussion on the possible need and implications for expanding the felt-soled wader ban to marine waters. DEM will also bring this issue before the RI Marine Fisheries Council this spring, affording an additional opportunity for public comment, and review by the Council.

The workshops on the proposed fishing and hunting regulations will be held on March 27 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Tiverton Rod and Gun Club, and on March 29 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at DEM headquarters, 235 Promenade Street, Providence. The workshops will cover all proposed freshwater fishing and hunting regulations, and will not be limited to the felt-sole gear issue. Notice of the workshops and hearing will be posted on DEM's website, announced via a news release, and also announced via the DEM Marine Fisheries listserv.

The ban on felt-soled foot gear was initiated to prevent the establishment and spread of invasive species in the state's waters. The transportation of some of these organisms has been attributed to felt-soled foot gear. Felt-soled wading gear can harbor microscopic forms of the aquatic invasive organisms, which can remain viable for weeks in the damp felt. Aquatic invasive species, plant or animal, can present a great risk of permanent damage to aquatic ecosystems.

Director Coit also noted that there is a need to continue to raise public awareness about invasive species and encourage everyone that recreates in or otherwise utilizes the State's waters to adopt best management practices to prevent the inadvertent spread of aquatic invasive species. Such practices include the inspection and sanitation of all equipment and clothing that comes into contact with ambient waters.

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