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Delaware nearing its limit for 2019 surf fishing permits


The state’s surf fishing program is nearing the number of permits it will issue this year.

A Delaware Department of National Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) advisory board voted in January to limit the number of 2019 surf fishing permits to 17,000.

DNREC announced late last week 15,000 had been issued and it is reducing the number of permit sales locations to four.

The number of permits issued has grown by 53 percent over the past seven years. Park Administrator Greg Abbot says the cap is meant to save space on Delaware’s multi-use beaches.

“The other part of the issue is the sheer number of people that are on the beach at one time,” said Abbot. “When you start looking at, particularly, holiday weekends and things, having a cap on it is one way to effectively manage our surf fishing program.”

The surf fishing permit allows Delawareans to park their cars on the beach, but anyone with a fishing license can walk onto the beach and fish the surf.

Abbot says as surf fishing in Delaware has become more popular in recent years there’s also been an uptick in people using permits when not fishing—violating the “actively-engaged in surf fishing” rule.

“Which means you have bait on your line and you are tending to your line regularly sitting within a close proximity to your pole so you can actively manage and actually actively engage in the fishing process while on the beach,” he said.

The Division of Parks & Rec has added a new, full-time Delaware Natural Resources Police park ranger for the coastal region, and has expanded rangers’ workweeks to enforce the actively engaged rule.

Correction: this story previously listed the permit limit as 1,700 and the number issues as 1,500.  The correct numbers are 17,000 and 15,000.  Delaware Public Media apologues for the error.