Permit Program for 2023
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has announced changes that will be piloted for the 2023 surf fishing permit program.
One of the biggest changes will be the elimination of a cap in effect since 2019 on the number of permits sold annually. The Division of Parks and Recreation will replace the cap for 2023 with a technology-based reservation system for managing capacity on summer weekends, when the state’s surf fishing beaches are in the highest demand.
Last spring, the Division of Parks and Recreation initiated a comprehensive review of the program in response to unprecedented permit sales for the 2022 season – including the opening day for sales, when the online permitting system was temporarily overwhelmed and surf fishing permits sold out in just a few hours.
The following recommendations are among those that will be implemented for the 2023 Surf Fishing Program:
- Remove the existing 17,000-permit sales cap.
- Pilot the new surf fishing permit reservation system. To read the complete news release, click here.
- Anglers who previously purchased a two-year permit (2022-23) will be subject to the new reservation system. (A full refund of the second year will be available to permit holders upon request no later than March 31, 2023.)
- Require viewing an instructional surf fishing video for permit holders.
- Last spring, the Division of Parks and Recreation initiated a comprehensive review of the program in response to unprecedented permit sales for the 2022 season – including the opening day for sales, when the online permitting system was temporarily overwhelmed and surf fishing permits sold out in just a few hours. The historic sales volume peaked at 742 permits being issued per minute, with the sales cap of 17,000 permits reached in under four hours. DNREC’s review of the program looked nationally at best practices and other states’ models for viable solutions to improve the sales process, delivery of permits, compliance with surf fishing regulations, enforcement and public safety – all with a goal of providing access to surf fishing on state park multi-use beaches while protecting the natural resource.
- “Over the last few years, we have implemented changes such as single-stack parking and increased surf fishing check points at the beach crossings, which have improved public safety and the visitor experience. Piloting the changes of dropping the cap requirement, implementing a reservation system for summer weekends, and adding an educational component was the next logical step to better manage the program for the future,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin.
- DNREC’s surf fishing permit program review and evaluation also included gathering data and information about the existing surf fishing program from staff and permit-holders, and researching best practices to identify potential strategies. The Division of Parks and Recreation sent surveys to more than 30,000 current and previous surf fishing permit holders, and received more than 7,000 responses.
- A stakeholder workgroup was formed in May to evaluate the data and provide feedback on potential solutions. The workgroup comprised members from various backgrounds including four members of the Delaware General Assembly, leadership of a homeowner’s association for a neighborhood bordering state park land, Department of Transportation, Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association, the Delaware Parks and Recreation Advisory Council, Delaware Mobile Surf Fishermen, a bait and tackle shop owner and experts in environmental science from Delaware universities.
- The recommendations were presented and endorsed by the Parks and Recreation Council in August 2022. The Council was formed in 1968 with the purpose of advising the Director of Parks and Recreation concerning matters related to the planning, acquisition, development, management, conservation, and programming of lands and services under the jurisdiction of the Division.
The surf fishing permit fee remains unchanged for 2023 and sales are anticipated to start in December.
To read the complete news release, click here.