Sept. 20, 2017
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
Many proposed changes to fishing regulations on the White River and North Fork River below Bull Shoals and Norfork Dams may be pushed forward for public review in the next month, thanks to spirited conversations and debates at two focus groups concerning the latest review of those fisheries management plans.
The management plans for these fisheries are reviewed and modified periodically to ensure the resource retains its integrity while matching the needs and desires of the public. According to Christy Graham, trout management program biologist for the AGFC, many regulations concerns were proposed, and many were able to be condensed into as few rule changes as possible.
“We want everyone to be involved, but we also understand that a lot of changes all at once can lead to confusion,” Graham said. “So we’ve worked to address the public’s requests without making things overly complex.”
The results of the focus groups are published on the Trout Management Program’s page - https://www.agfc.com/en/fishing/sportfish/trout. Proposals derived from those notes will be published for public comment through an online survey in the next month, and biologists hope to present them to the Commission at its regularly scheduled October meeting.
“Once the proposals have been formally presented, there will be another 30-day comment window, and we will present all public comments before the Commission votes on the proposals in November,” Graham said. “If passed, the regulations changes will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.”
Graham stresses that the regulations changes are only part of the management plan revisions, and more changes are possible before the plan is finalized.
“We had a lot of concerns about current regulations, but we also fielded quite a few concerns about other issues, such as water quality, guide fees and stocking rates,” Graham said. “Those issues are important as well, and will be addressed in appropriate ways, either through the management plan or working with other divisions with AGFC and partners. We still have a long way to go, but we want to make sure the public is with us every step of the way.”