A small state may have no power to stop the massive fishing fleets from setting up shop in the Gulf of Mexico, but it has the ability to make them pay.
That’s because Delaware’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has the power to shut down fishing fleets.
And the DEP is working hard to protect those fisheries.
In 2016, DEP finalized a memorandum of understanding with the state’s fishermen to implement a “fish conservation plan.”
The memorandum says that by 2025, Delaware’s fisheries will be managed in a way that preserves the state from “a loss of fisheries and commercial fishery revenue” that could “have a significant impact on the state economy.”
The plan also requires Delaware to “ensure that the fishery is managed in the public interest, in a manner that does not impact the public welfare and does not contribute to climate change.”
It’s a bold move for a state that’s seen its fishing industry collapse in recent years.
Delaware has lost almost half of its fisheries since the early 1990s.
Last year, the state reported just over $8 million in losses.
In 2016, the total loss was nearly $21 million.
And in the past few years, there’s been a steady decline in the number of commercial fishing vessels operating in the state.
According to data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), in 2020, there were 663,000 commercial fishing boats in the Delaware River System.
That number declined to 539,000 in 2019 and 569,000 last year.
The decline has been so severe that the Delaware Department of Commerce and Economic Development (DCED) recently proposed a plan to restore the state to its pre-Fish and Wildlife crisis status.
It would restore fishing operations to pre-catch levels and would limit the number and type of boats.
But the plan was shot down by Delaware’s fishing industry.
The USFWS, which is an independent agency within the DEU, said the plan did not include a plan for the restoration of Delaware’s fishery.
Instead, it said that it would focus on fishing and commercial fishing.DEP says it has an abundance of resources, including a marine mammal program and an invasive species program, to protect the state waters.
In 2017, the department installed the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which is responsible for managing fish populations and controlling invasive species.
The NMFS has a five-year plan for restoring the Delaware fishing industry, including setting up a marine mammals program and implementing an invasive wildlife program, and is in the process of completing the plan for all of the state and its surrounding waters.
The plan is also set to include an annual assessment of the impacts of invasive species on Delaware fisheries.DEPs fishery management plan would likely mean fewer fish and fewer commercial fishing licenses in Delaware.
But it also could mean more commercial fishing for the state, which could drive up the cost of fishing and the fishing industry’s revenue.
According the USFws website, in 2017, Delaware had a total fishery catch of 4,000 million pounds of fish.
That’s less than half of the total catch recorded in 1980.
That means Delaware has the capacity to produce less than 1 percent of the catch recorded from the mid-1990s.
The state’s fisheries are also projected to decline by nearly half in 2060, and by 25 percent by 2070.
The fishing industry is also projected not to increase in the future, according to the USFs website.
The fish conservation plan also doesn’t include any plans to restore fisheries in other states.
But the Fish and Fisheries Conservation Commission (FFC) and the Delaware Ocean Management Council (DOMMC) have agreed to work together to develop a plan that could include plans for restoration in Delaware and other states that are threatened by invasive species or fisheries.
The FFC and DOMMC are also working to establish a plan with NOAA to protect Delaware’s fish and wildlife resources.
The DEP will be responsible for monitoring and managing the fisheries in Delaware to ensure that they remain sustainable, according the memorandum of agreement.
Accordingly, Delaware is considering a number of strategies to ensure the fish and marine resources of the Delaware, such as protecting them in the Atlantic Ocean and working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other stakeholders to manage invasive species in the region.
The plan will likely come in handy in the coming years, when the Delaware state will begin planning for a major state event in 2021.
The State of Delaware will hold its annual Big Day, an event that is a key part of the annual Delaware State Flag Ceremony that will be held on the Big River in the summer of 2021.