Commercial Fishermen Want To Open New State Waters
Last month, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission heard about several topics concerning commercial fishing during its monthly meeting. TWRC staff members responded to the recommendations made by the Commercial Fishing Advisory Committee that was established this year by the General Assembly. The volunteer CFAC is made up entirely of nine members of the commercial fishing industry and made several recommendations to TWRA at its first meeting back in August. Among their recommendations were eliminating the size limit restriction on big catfish and opening up six new waters to commercial fishing, namely Norris, Watts Bar, upper Old Hickory, Corden Hull, Melton Hill and Tellico. Those reservoirs would be fished on a rotating basis under the recommendation put forth by the committee. Commercial fishermen are only seeking the harvest of paddlefish in five of the six new waters. Paddlefish are sought primarily for its roe, which is sold as caviar. TWRA officials responded by saying that the big catfish regulation also affects sport fishing, so they want to see more input from the sport fishing community on the recommendation before making a decision in the spring of 2012. TWRA says that until the plan is “developed and studies are completed to determine status of the paddlefish population as well as its potential effects on sports fish, the agency does not recommend the opening of any new waters at this time.” Sport fishermen believe that eliminating those size limit restrictions will damage the fish’s ecosystem and ultimately the fish and sport fishing in Tennessee.