The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)has announced that it is offering to buy and permanently retire Unlimited Tidal Fish (TFL) and Crab Harvester (CB) commercial fishing licenses on a voluntary basis from holders who may or may not be currently active in commercial crabbing or fishing.
The first phase of the effort to reduce latent crabbing pressure was a voluntary DNR buyback of commercial Limited Crab Catcher (LCC) licenses which ran from July 2009 until March 11, 2011. The effort resulted in the purchase and retirement of nearly 700 licenses.
On March 1, 2011, DNR mailed buyback information packets including bid forms to all TFL and CB license holders who may choose to accept a certain base price or take a chance that there will be funds available at the end of the program to be paid a higher price. The base and optional high prices are based on license types. The offers range from a base price of $4,000 for a 300-pot CB license to a high potential price of $12,000 for a TFL with a 900 crab pot authorization. License holders may also choose to pass on the offer.
According to DNR, The agency is not planning any action that would impact individuals who choose not to participate in this program.
DNR will buy all licenses offered at the base price first. If funds remain after the initial phase, DNR will randomly select, in a public drawing, licenses to be purchased at the higher price.
TFL and CB license holders interested in selling their licenses to DNR must return their bid forms to the postmarked by Friday April 15, 2011 in order to participate.
Buyback program information, bid forms, and the price structure are posted on the DNR website at http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/commercial/index.asp
Interested license holders may also call the crab hotline at 410-260-8286 for more information.