Aug. 20, 2020
Randy Zellers Assistant Chief of Communications
LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission heard the first official reading of 46 proposed regulations changes concerning fishing and fisheries management in Arkansas during today’s regularly scheduled meeting.
Thirty-six of the regulations presented were either simplifications, clarifications or expansions of opportunities for anglers. Only 10 regulations presented represented an increase in regulation, and each of those was justified by significant scientific information to potentially improve conservation efforts or angler experiences.
“We circulated 48 proposals to the public through a survey for 53 days in May through July, and garnered 2,504 responses,” said Ben Batten, chief of the AGFC’s Fisheries Division. “We did remove two proposals from consideration at this time as a result of those public comments.”
Commissioner Bobby Martin of Springdale praised the staff and AGFC Director Pat Fitts for the continued efforts to simplify, reduce and relax hunting and fishing regulations whenever possible.
“I know all of us as Commissioners really applauded the focused priority and the objectives you laid out there; that’s a big benefit to the public at large,” Martin said.
Batten also presented the first official reading of proposed changes to commercial fishing regulations as well as regulations concerning Arkansas’s aquaculture industry and live-fish trade. Similar efforts were made to involve stakeholders in a public comment period, either through surveys, focus groups or webinars.
A complete list of proposed regulations is available at https://www.agfc.com/en/about-agfc/commission-meetings/legal-notices.
If passed in the Commission’s October meeting all fisheries regulations read today will go into effect Jan. 1, 2021. The only exception is a regulation requiring commercial fishers to report their catch monthly, which would go into effect on January 1, 2022.
Commissioners also voted unanimously to approve two projects in Calhoun County using Marine Fuel Tax funds to improve public access to fishing locations in that county:
Mike Knoedl Tri-county Lake — Reimbursement of half of the cost to reconstruct and pave the road and parking areas leading to two boat ramps on the lake, a project estimated at $57,647.
Little Bay Access — Reimbursement of half of the cost to repair, level and pave 1.5 miles on Calhoun County Road 19 leading to Little Bay and the Ouachita River, a project estimated at $232,429.
In other business, the Commission:
- Approved final date adjustments for the 2020-21 waterfowl seasons to match those provided in the Federal Register. Dates may be found at www.agfc.com/waterfowl
- Heard an update from Deke Whitbeck, president of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation, on the status of the foundation’s online auction in lieu of the 2020 Arkansas Outdoors Hall of Fame Banquet that it was forced to cancel due to COVID-19 concerns. Visit https://www.facebook.com/AGFFoundation to learn more about the auction and other events the AGFF is using to help raise conservation awareness.
- Heard from guest speaker Jennifer Ogle, Arkansas Native Seed Program Coordinator, on the progress of this critical native habitat endeavor.
- Authorized Director Pat Fitts to execute a written agreement with the AGFF to provide permits for the public to accompany AGFC staff on biologically necessary visits to monitor bear dens during early spring. The permits will be distributed to members of the general public in a variety of educational opportunities and fundraising activities for the Foundation.
- Authorized the AGFC Legal Division to provide legal defense representation on behalf of a wildlife officer for all claims made against him in a lawsuit.
- Authorized Director Fitts to convey a right-of-way easement and permanent utility easements to the City of Springdale across a portion of the J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center to provide utilities to the center.
- Authorized the removal of outdated and obsolete inventory with an original cost of $170,911 and zero current net book value.