The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Parks & Recreation will discuss proposed changes to the surf fishing program at its upcoming, regularly-scheduled Parks and Recreation Council meeting, set for 9:30 a.m. Jan. 17 at the Dover Public Library, 35 East Loockerman St.

Parks & Recreation staff will offer a presentation on proposed surf fishing permit fee increases, and the public will be given the opportunity to comment. The proposed fee increase, if approved at the meeting, would go into effect on Feb. 1.

DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation is proposing raising the surf fishing permit fees to $90 for Delaware residents, an increase of $10. Out-of-state residents would pay $180 for the annual surf fishing permit, an increase of $20. Surf-fishing permit holders would continue to receive the additional benefit of their permit serving as an annual pass, providing free access to Delaware’s state parks.

The Division of Parks & Recreation is also proposing limiting the number of surf fishing permits issued to 17,000 annually. In 2017, the state issued 17,104 permits. The fee increase is being proposed to help ensure the public’s safety, and to maintain the quality user experience at designated multi-use beaches. The beaches have a capacity, and the Division of Parks & Recreation is seeking to limit the number of permits issued to assist in continuing to manage the surf fishing program. The priority is to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors. A limit on the number of permits issued would help ease future congestion on all multi-use beaches.

Delaware’s state park system is primarily self-funded. Sixty-five percent of the funds used to operate and maintain the parks come from the collection of user fees. Revenue generated by the proposed fee increase would advance the division’s efforts to improve amenities and increase the presence of park enforcement at ocean parks.

The authority to increase park user fees is included in Section 87 of the fiscal 2019 bond bill, and requires “adequate opportunity for public comment and approval of the appropriate public advisory council.” The Parks and Recreation Council is an 11-member board appointed by the governor, that serves in an advisory capacity to the Division of Parks & Recreation.

The public can submit written comments in advance at Written comments can also be sent to Greg J. Abbott, Surf-fishing permit fee proposal, DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901, prior to the Jan. 17 meeting.

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