New rule for anglers on holdA major rule change published in the 2010 North Dakota Fishing Guide has not yet been approved by the Legislative Management Committee and is therefore not currently in effect.
BISMARCK (AP) — A major rule change published in the 2010 North Dakota Fishing Guide has not yet been approved by the Legislative Management Committee and is therefore not currently in effect.
The rule, which deals with the draining of livewells and baitwells from all watercraft, is listed as the number one change to the 2010-2012 fishing regulations as published by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. There’s a problem, however, the rule hasn’t cleared the necessary procedures to become law.
“They missed the deadline for the agenda,” said John Walstad, counsel for Legislative Management. “There is a statutory timetable for public notice, hearing and presenting to the rules committee. You have to have some foresight as to what the end date is.”
Wording in the current fishing guide states: “Beginning in 2010, all water in all watercraft, including all livewells and baitwells must be drained prior to leaving a water body. This is a significant addition to previously established regulations designed to reduce the potential for spread of aquatic nuisance species into or within North Dakota. This new regulation means that fish (including bait) may no longer be transported in a livewell containing water, after leaving a water body.”
Game and Fish made mention of the gaffe in a news release issued recently, reminding anglers that current law states that “no aquatic vegetation, or parts thereof, shall be in or on watercraft, motors, trailers and recreational equipment when out of water.”
During the recently completed round of fall and spring advisory board meetings, Game and Fish told sportsmen that removing all vegetation from watercraft, trailers and equipment was no longer sufficient and that 2010 regulations would include draining all water from all watercraft. No longer would fishermen be allowed to transport fish or bait from a lake or river to their home in a live well with water. Game and Fish advised anglers to clean their fish at a cleaning station or place fish on ice for the trip home.
Greg Power, Game and Fish fisheries division chief, said he understood the confusion between what is written in the Fishing Guide and what the rule actually is.
“The reality is, we had to print 120,000 fishing guides whether the new ANS rule happened or not. We assumed it would,” said Power. “Not that there’s any problem. There’s no big contingent upset or opposed to it or anything, but it is not the law now.”
Power said he expects the “proposed” ANS regulation to take effect Oct. 1, 2010. That could occur if the legislative rules committee approves the new regulation in mid-July. A required two-month waiting period would follow, meaning it would be late September before the new regulation could be legally enforced.
While some Game and Fish issues can be resolved by simple approval of the governor, the issue of aquatic nuisance species is not believed to fall under the definition of common Game and Fish regulations such as harvest limits or season dates. Therefore, legislative approval is necessary.
“It’s not an official rule yet and there still could be some issues with it,” said Walstad. “The committee could hold it up or pass it.”
In the interim, Game and Fish encourages anglers to implement the practice immediately of draining all water from livewells and baitwells and to transport bait in containers of five gallons or less. While there is concern that boats coming in from outside the borders of North Dakota could contain invasive species, another area of primary concern is the Red River.
“Based on what they’ve discovered in Minnesota, it is possible that Zebra mussels will show up in the Red River,” said Lynn Schleuter, Game & Fish special projects biologist. “There’s other areas to worry about but we want to make sure ANS is not moved by anyone fishing the Red. We’ve started the process by submitting a good administrative rule to cover this issue.”