Amended Delaware Regulations Governing Beach Protection and Use of Beaches go into effect Aug. 11

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Amended Delaware Regulations Governing Beach Protection and Use of Beaches go into effect Aug. 11

DOVER – Final  amendments to Delaware’s Regulations Governing Beach Protection and the Use of Beaches – that implement legislative changes to the state’s Beach Preservation Act and clarify and codify the process for construction to help preserve the state’s fragile dune and beach system – will go into effect Aug. 11. The amendments, pursuant to 7DE Admin. Code §5102, were approved July 15 in an order signed by DNREC Secretary David Small, and will be submitted to the State of Delaware’s Register of Regulations for publication Aug. 1. 

Delaware’s Beach Preservation Act was passed in 1972 as the General Assembly recognized that Delaware’s beaches were rapidly deteriorating due to a combination of natural processes and continuing encroachment. DNREC was charged through the act to enhance, preserve and protect the public and private beaches of the state and to mitigate beach erosion and minimize storm damage.

A significant amendment to the Beach Preservation Act was passed by the General Assembly in 1996, requiring DNREC to take additional steps to minimize the impacts on the beach and dunes from any construction that took place seaward of the building line established to protect coastal dunes. The methodology for achieving the objective stated in the legislation was developed by the Department as a set of procedures and guidance that became known as “The Four-Step Process.” This guidance had not been incorporated into Delaware’s beach regulations until now.

“Delaware’s beaches and dunes are among our most vulnerable natural resources, a significant driver behind our state’s economy and critical to protecting our coastal areas,” said Secretary Small. “Incorporating the Four-Step Process into the regulation, as it has existed and been applied during the past 20 years, assures consistency, transparency and certainty for the public. It also allows the development and redevelopment of these sensitive areas to occur in an orderly and equitable fashion.”

Current Regulations Governing Beach Protection and the Use of Beaches were adopted in 1983. Since then, several amendments have been made to Delaware’s Beach Preservation Act that had not yet been incorporated into the regulations, along with several procedures used over the years to guide DNREC’s mission as stated in both the Beach Preservation Act and the state regulations for beach protection and use.

Notable proposed changes include:

  • Changes to the Beach Preservation Act (Del. Code Title 7, Ch. 68) define a “Regulated Area,” which requires formal approval for construction activities for the first three buildable lots landward of the Mean High Waterline. “Regulated area” is the specific area within the defined beach that DNREC is directed to regulate construction of, to preserve dunes and to reduce property damage. The regulated area shall be from the seaward edge of the beach to the landward edge of the third buildable lot in from the mean high water line. This revision expands the amount of lots required to get approval in some areas and reduces it in others. Changes to the Act mandated this change in the regulations.
  • The Regulations incorporate amendments to the Beach Preservation Act (Del. Code Title 7, Ch. 68), which direct DNREC to consider the effects of beach nourishment, where maintained to engineering standards, when existing houses located seaward of the Building Line are being reconstructed after being destroyed by an “Act of God or other accidental event.”
  • Placement and approval of temporary structures are directly addressed in the revised regulations. The placement of temporary structures related to an event lasting 72 hours or less will be exempt from getting approval.
  • The Four-Step Process for requiring proposed structures seaward of the Building Line to minimize encroachment onto beach and dunes, which is currently Department policy, is incorporated into the revised regulations.


Secretary’s Order 2016-WS-0023 about the amended regulations, as signed by Secretary Small, can be found on the DNREC website at: Paper or electronic copies of the regulations may be requested by contacting DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship’s Shoreline & Waterway Management Section at (302) 739-9921.

CONTACT: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 262


Public invited to an open house July 20 on draft Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Action Plan

LEWES (July 15, 2016) –DNREC’s Delaware Coastal Programs and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body (RPB) invite ocean stakeholders and the interested public to attend an open house to consider a draft Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Action Plan. The open house is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 20 at The Virden Retreat Center, University of Delaware, 700 Pilottown Road, Lewes, DE 19958. The program will begin with a brief presentation on the draft plan, followed by a poster session and opportunities for questions and comment. The agenda can be found on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO) website by clicking here.

“The draft Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan represents nearly three years of deliberations and stakeholder outreach by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body in developing ocean policy for the region,” said Sarah W. Cooksey, Delaware Coastal Program Administrator, who along with DNREC Fisheries Administrator John Clark, is the state’s representative on the RPB. “With many people in Delaware depending on the ocean for its vast resources, the RPB is providing an opportunity for stakeholders and the public to learn about the plan and give comments that will be considered for the final document that will be submitted to the federal government.”

The draft plan outlines a series of actions on how federal and state agencies, tribes and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council can better collaborate to ensure healthy, productive, and resilient marine ecosystems and sustainable ocean uses in the Mid-Atlantic, including state and federal waters off Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. The draft Plan can be found on the RPB website at The public comment period closes on September 6, 2016.

The draft plan supports improved government coordination and increased stakeholder participation to ensure healthy ocean ecosystems and sustainable ocean uses. The healthy ocean ecosystem goal promotes ocean health, functionality, and integrity through conservation, protection, enhancement, and restoration. Sustainable ocean uses require planning to provide for existing and emerging ocean uses that minimize conflicts, improve effectiveness of government, and support economic growth.

The draft plan has been developed by the RPB with the support of MARCO. Established in 2009 by the Governors of Delaware, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, and Virginia, MARCO provides a forum for the coastal Mid-Atlantic states to collaborate on shared regional priorities related to marine habitats, renewable offshore energy, climate change adaptation, and ocean water quality.

Last January, Delaware Coastal Programs hosted the MARCO forum on scientific data that was used to develop the draft Ocean Action Plan for the region. The content of the plan is the culmination of research, coordination and planning through contracted projects that included marine ecological data, human use data and the Regional Ocean Assessment.

President Obama’s National Ocean Policy mandated that each U.S. ocean and coastal region develop a plan to guide ocean use, manage resources, and utilize the principles of marine spatial planning for increased coordination across all levels of government. Additional information about the RPB may be found at

Contact: Sarah W.Cooksey, Delaware Coastal Programs, 302-739-9283; John Clark, Division of Fish and Wildlife, 302-739-9914; or Melanie Rapp, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 258

New exhibits at the Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum to be showcased at annual Maritime Heritage Festival

REHOBOTH BEACH – Delaware Seashore State Park will host the 6th annual Maritime Heritage Festival at the Indian River Life-Saving Station Museum from noon through 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 17. During the festival, families can experience the rich history of the Delaware coast through crafts, games, prizes, food, music and demonstrations throughout the day.

This year’s festival will showcase three new or improved museum exhibits that were made possible through the National Park Service’s Maritime Heritage Grant Program. The Life-Saving Station was awarded $25,000 last year to put toward refurbishing the existing flag tower, restoring the 1914 Stieff piano and purchasing a custom-made, reproduction of a Life-Saving Service beach cart.

Photo of Indian River Life-Saving Station
Demonstration of historic life saving technique at Indian River Life-Saving Station.

The highlight of the festival will be the Breeches Buoy Rescue Demonstration, performed by park staff and active-duty Coast Guardsmen. They will fire a historic “Lyle Gun,” a line-throwing cannon used to fire a projectile attached to a rope to a boat or victim in distress. Lyle guns, used as the preferred rescue method of the U.S. Life-Saving Service, helped save countless lives from the late 19th century all the way until 1952.

The celebration will also feature guest speakers from DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation’s Cultural Resources office, the U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association, and Scott Ernst Custom Woodworks to discuss how the grant funds were used to complete the projects.

In addition to showcasing the new museum exhibits, there will be plenty of entertainment for all ages, including storyteller and musician Matthew Dodd, who will return to perform “Songs and Stories of Old Sailing Days” while dressed in sailor garb, and a show of historic sea shanties and stories sure to entertain kids of all ages.

Between shows, visitors can check out displays and family-friendly activities from local museums, historical societies and maritime organizations. Activities will include a life-size board game, “sailor tattoo” face painting, 19th century colonial games, a raffle and much more. Food will also be available for purchase, including crab cake sandwiches, fish tacos, and lobster rolls from the Big Thunder Roadside Kitchen from SoDel Concepts.

The Indian River Life-Saving Station is located 3.5 miles south of Dewey Beach and 1.5 miles north of the Indian River Inlet Bridge on Highway 1. Admission to the festival is free. For more information, contact the Indian River Life-Saving Station at Delaware Seashore State Park, at 302-227-6991.

Vol. 46, No. 253

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to hold public hearing July 6 on interstate fishery management plan for Atlantic menhaden

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife will host an Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) public hearing on a draft addendum to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden at 6 p.m., Wednesday, July 6 in the DNREC Auditorium, Richardson & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901.

The draft addendum proposes modifying the current plan’s bycatch allowance provision by allowing two licensed commercial fishermen to harvest up to 12,000 pounds of menhaden bycatch when working from the same vessel and fishing with stationary, multi‐species gear, limited to one vessel trip per day. Bycatch represents less than 2 percent of the total coastwide landings.

The practice of two licensed commercial fishermen working together from the same vessel to harvest Atlantic menhaden primarily occurs in the Chesapeake Bay pound net fishery. This practice enables the fishermen to pool resources for fuel and crew. However, the practice is currently constrained by the plan’s bycatch allowance provision, which includes a 6,000 pound per vessel per day limit. The ASMFC is seeking comment on whether the provision should be revised to accommodate the interests of fixed‐gear fishermen who work together, as authorized by the states and jurisdictions in which they fish.

The intent of the draft addendum is to add flexibility to one element of the bycatch allowance provision while the Atlantic Menhaden Management Board, of which Delaware is a member, prepares to address menhaden management more comprehensively through the development of an additional addendum to the plan over the next two years.

Anglers and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input on the draft addendum either by attending state public hearings or providing written comment. The draft addendum is posted at or on the Commission’s website,, under Public Input.

Public comment will be accepted until 5 p.m. Monday, July 11, 2016 and should be sent to Megan Ware, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland Street, Suite A‐N, Arlington, VA 22201; faxed to 703-842-0741 or emailed to (Subject line: Draft Addendum I).

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 246

DNREC’s Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police encourage safe boating practices over holiday weekend

DOVER – With many boaters heading out on the water for the long 4th of July holiday weekend, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police advise “steady as she goes” for practicing safe boating on Delaware waterways. “We need everyone on our waterways to be alert, use common sense and avoid actions that will put themselves, their passengers and other boaters at risk,” said Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police Chief Robert Legates.

Recent statistics from the U.S. Coast Guard show the top five primary contributing factors for boating accidents are operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and alcohol use. With these factors in mind, Sgt. John McDerby, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police boating safety coordinator, offered some tips for safe boating:

Safety-check your vessel and equipment before getting underway
Preparations for putting your boat in the water each season should begin with servicing the motor or engine to ensure it is in good operating condition. Before heading out, always check engine oil levels and make sure you have enough gasoline in your tank, as well as making sure all navigational lights are working.

“Unexpected engine failure or running out of gas can strand you and your passengers – and this rarely happens at a convenient time or place,” Sgt. McDerby said. “Add nightfall, an approaching summer storm, rough seas or other hazards, and you place yourself and your passengers in danger.”

Additional items to check include the appropriate number of life jackets and a fully-charged cell phone and/or marine radio, as well as the following safety equipment: flares, a whistle or sound-producing device, and a fire extinguisher.

Wear a lifejacket
In 2015, the number of boating accident fatalities nationwide totaled 626, including 22 children under the age of 13, according to U.S. Coast Guard statistics. Where cause of death was known, 76 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims when lifejacket usage was known, 85 percent were not wearing a lifejacket.

“Like seatbelts in automobiles, we know without question that lifejackets save lives. Delaware law requires that children age 12 and younger wear a life jacket while underway in any vessel on Delaware waters,” Sgt. McDerby said, noting that no children age 12 or younger have died as a result of drowning in Delaware since this law was passed in 1991.

“Though lifejackets are not legally required to be worn by adults, they should also wear them, especially anyone with limited swimming skills,” Sgt. McDerby continued. “Boating accidents can happen very fast – and there’s no time to reach for a stowed lifejacket and put it on.”

While operating a vessel, stay alert and keep a sharp lookout
When operating an automobile, safe driving includes keeping your eyes on the road and avoiding distractions that take your attention elsewhere.
“The same applies to operating a vessel,” Sgt. McDerby said. “At all times, boaters need to watch where they are going, looking for other vessels and anything in the water that poses a hazard or redirects vessels.”

Things to look out for include: swimmers, water skiers and smaller vessels such as kayaks or jet skis; floating hazards such as large branches or logs in the water; shallow areas where your vessel can become grounded; and directional channel markers or other signage.

Watch your speed
As with land vehicles, boaters need to remember that the faster you drive your boat, the more you reduce your reaction time and increase your chances of being involved in an accident.

“Operating a vessel at excessive speed poses a hazard to you and your passengers as well as everyone else on the water around you, especially in areas with a lot of boat traffic – a common occurrence on popular waterways, especially during busy summer holiday weekends,” Sgt. McDerby said. Boaters should take particular care to observe posted slow-no-wake areas, he added.

Don’t drink and boat
According to Coast Guard statistics, alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents and was listed as the leading factor in 17 percent of the 626 boating-related fatalities reported nationwide in 2015, with 306 accidents resulting in 122 deaths and 258 injuries.

“Drinking while boating is a choice. The best way to minimize the risk of an accident is to make the wise choice – don’t drink and boat,” said Sgt. McDerby, noting that boaters should plan ahead to have a non-drinking designated boat operator aboard if alcohol is being consumed.

While it is not illegal for recreational boat operators to consume alcohol, the same blood alcohol limit used to measure intoxication in automobile drivers applies to boat operators: 0.08 or above is legally intoxicated. Sgt. McDerby also noted that boat operators above the limit put themselves and their passengers at risk, and those found operating under the influence face fines and potential jail time.

Delaware’s emphasis on boating safety education

Taking a boating safety course to improve your skills can help reduce the chances of an accident. Coast Guard statistics show that in states where instructional data was available, 71 percent of reported fatalities occurred on boats where the operator had not received boating safety instruction.

“Last year, we had one boating-related fatality and 25 reportable boating accidents in Delaware. We’d like to see the number of accidents go down,” Chief Legates said, noting that to date this year, Delaware has had 10 reported boating accidents and no fatalities.

Under Delaware law, all persons born on or after Jan. 1, 1978 must successfully complete a boating safety course in order to operate a boat in Delaware waters, including personal watercraft. “We recommend that everyone who is going to operate a boat in Delaware waters take a safety course first, regardless of their age,” Sgt. McDerby said.

Delaware’s 8-hour basic boating safety course, which fulfills Delaware’s mandatory boating safety class requirement, is offered in multiple locations statewide in one to four sessions. An online version of the course also is offered. Upon completing the course, boaters receive a boating safety certificate, with those required to take the course having to carry the certificate while boating as proof of course completion.

For more information, including the boating safety class schedule, access to the online Delaware Boating Handbook and other boating information, visit Delaware Boating Safety, or contact Sgt. John McDerby at 302-739-9913 or by email at

Contact: Sgt. John McDerby, Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police, 302-739-9913 or 302-354-1386, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 46, No. 236