New fishing rules proposed: Public comments due Jan. 8 on Wildlife Department proposals
A clean-up of Title 800 language and a proposed reduction in daily fishing limits for trout and Close To Home fisheries in 2021 have general support from the Oklahoma Conservation Coalition.
Public comments on proposed changes to Title 800, the statutes that set hunting and fishing rules and guide Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation operations, are due by 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 8.
Chief among the changes are proposed reduction of daily trout limits from six to three fish daily and a simplification of Close To Home fishing area rules to allow an aggregate species daily catch of three fish. The coalition recognized the costs of stocking programs but encouraged close monitoring of public feedback on the reduced limits.
People can click through the proposals and comment through an online form at the Wildlife Department web site, wildlifedepartment.com, send written comments to Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, RE: Public Comment, P.O. Box 53465, OKC, OK 73152. A public hearing is set at Department Headquarters in Oklahoma City, Jan. 7 at 7 p.m.
A large volume of proposals is on the docket this year but the majority are “housekeeping” measures resulting from an ongoing department effort to update, clarify and simplify Title 800 statutes. The Coalition lauded the department’s extensive effort to update and clarify Title 800.
Text of the Coalition’s public comment letter follows:
To: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
RE: Public Comment
P.O. Box 53465
OKC, OK 73152
Upon review of the 114 proposed Title 800 rule changes for 2021 the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma wishes to respond positively to all items proposed.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation staff members should be applauded for an apparently detailed and exhaustive effort in crafting a first wave of revisions to Title 800 that updates, removes redundancies, and clarifies the language.
The coalition and its members support the Department as we understand it is continuing to work on clarifying more of Title 800 and the hunting and fishing guidebooks to make taking part in outdoors activities less challenging for the public, especially for newcomers and those returning to hunting, fishing and other outdoors pursuits.
Regarding a few specific proposals:
Three-fish daily aggregate limits proposed for trout and for Close to Home fisheries: While we respect the department’s proposal to reduce the take of trout and simplify rules for Close to Home venues, it is clear the change is not due to fish population health or biological reasons and reduced opportunity always is worthy of mention. We understand that the expense of stocking fish, especially trout, has grown exponentially, however. We simply urge the department to closely monitor public reaction and use caution in initial enforcement of this 50-percent cut to the daily bag limit among everyday anglers at a time when more people are turning to fishing during hard times.
Disposal of fish carcasses and clarification of rules around bowfishing: The act of dumping dead fish at boat ramps and leaving dead fish that have been arrowed or otherwise caught and killed in shallow, waded areas has long been detrimental to the image of fishing and outdoors activities like bowfishing, which when done ethically should be encouraged. It is good to see the department make an extra effort to provide enforceable rules to prevent improper disposal of fish waste, which has been detrimental to the wide use of our outdoor spaces. Making the public aware of these new regulations will be important.