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Delaware Mobile Surf-Fishermen Club raises concerns about Surf Fishing Permit Program changes

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DNREC
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Earlier this month, Delaware’s Surf Fishing Program removed the cap on permit purchases and moved to a reservation system starting next year.

Now, there's reaction to the change.

The Delaware Mobile Surf-Fishermen Club has mixed feelings about the new system.

The club’s president Clark Evans says removing the cap on the total number of permits sold makes sense.

“We think that the cap was useful five years ago, or whenever it was put into place," he said. "Now it’s kind of worn out - it’s welcomed if you will - and that’s just because it created an artificial cap on the economy where everybody wanted to get one. So the cap - it’s not that it’s worn out, it’s just not the best and most useful way to manage the surf permit system.”

But Evans says his group has concerns about the new reservation system.

He argues that the best way to manage surf fishing permits is a “fluid” approach - suggesting the state migrate to a “capacity management system,” similar to what’s used at Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland, where only a certain number of trucks are allowed on the beach at one time.

“We’re uncomfortable with the reservation system as it is currently being put forward. I mean they (DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation) don’t even know how we’re going to manage this. And I just think that they’re trying to take their Parks’ reservation system where people are reserving camping spots and things like that and just saying hey will apply this to the beach. And we’re really uncomfortable with that model.” 

Evans concedes that it would take quite a few changes to switch to a capacity-based model. But Delaware State Parks management thinks the new reservation system is a first step to trying to achieve that.

He says he doubts they can get the system operational by May of 2023 and enforce it - since enforcement is already spread thin.

Under the new system, only one reservation is allowed per day - per tag holder - and can only be used on one of seven specific beach locations.

Evans is skeptical that it can be effectively enforced on busy weekends and holidays.

Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.