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LibbyMt.com > News > May 2019 > Public scoping underway for Montana fishing regulations

Public scoping underway for Montana fishing regulations
FWP biologists gathering input as part of regulation setting process
by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
May 9, 2019

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is undergoing a public scoping process to review fishing regulations and identify potential issues with fisheries.

FWP fisheries staff is meeting with local and statewide groups, organizations and individual anglers for discussions on a broad range of topics, including season and possession limits and terminal tackle regulations. The public is encouraged to provide input to area biologists and managers during this initial scoping phase, which formally began in April and runs through May 31, 2019. Following the initial scoping period, FWP staff will formulate tentative proposals to present to the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission in August before presenting the proposals to the public for input this fall.

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission has statutory authority to establish seasons, possession limits and season limits for any species of game fish, and terminal tackle regulations. It may also declare a closed season on any fish threatened with undue depletion for any cause. The Commission may set new regulations or modify existing ones at any time deemed necessary.

To view the current fishing regulations, visit http://fwp.mt.gov/fish/regulations

The normal regulation setting process is conducted on a four-year cycle with annual changes made in special circumstances. Every fourth year, FWP seeks input from the angling public and fisheries staff about ideas and concerns that might be addressed by regulation changes; this is known as the "scoping process."

When reviewing the fishing regulations, FWP staff work to identify any potential issues with a fishery or population that could require a regulation change. Biologists review evidence that confirms an issue does exist, and considers how a change in regulation could remedy the situation. Other questions to consider include, "Why is a new regulation or change in regulation the best way to ‘fix’ the issue?" and "Are there alternative measures that could be implemented other than changing the current regulations"?" Also, "What foreseeable, or potentially unforeseeable, impacts could be caused by this regulation change?" And, importantly, "Can this proposed regulation be enforced?"

Other questions can factor into the review process. FWP staff then uses the best information available to evaluate regulation requests and makes recommendations to the Commission. The Commission also evaluates regulation proposals and decides which proposals will be advanced for public review. The Commission makes a final decision based on input from the public and FWP staff. With the exception of emergency or time-sensitive changes, the regulations adopted by the Commission go into effect the following March 1. These changes are captured in the Fishing Regulation booklet for that year.

Members of the public can contact area biologists to provide input.

Region 1 Fisheries Contacts:
Mike Hensler, Region 1 Fisheries Manager
(406) 751-4550

Kenneth Breidinger, Fisheries Biologist, Kalispell
(406) 751-4543

Leo Rosenthal, Fisheries Biologist, Kalispell
(406) 751-4548

Ryan Kreiner, Fisheries Biologist, Thompson Falls
(406) 382-3032

Brian Stephens, Fisheries Biologist, Libby
(406) 293-4161

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