RULES AND REGULATIONS
FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
[58 PA. CODE CHS. 53, 65 AND 93]
Commission Property, Fishing and Boating
[28 Pa.B. 4788]
The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) by this order amends Chapters 53, 65 and 93. The Commission is publishing these amendments under the authority of 30 Pa.C.S. (relating to the Fish and Boat Code) (code). The amendments concern Commission property, fishing and boating.
A. Effective Date
These amendments will go into effect upon publication of this order adopting the amendments.
B. Contact Person
For further information on the amendments, contact Laurie E. Shepler, Assistant Counsel, (717) 657-4546, P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000. This final rulemaking is available electronically through the Commission's Web site at http://www.fish.state.pa.us.
C. Statutory Authority
These amendments are published under the statutory authority of sections 741, 2102 and 5122 of the code (relating to control of property; rules and regulations; and registrations, licenses, permits, plates and statistics).
D. Purpose and Background
The amendments are designed to update, modify and improve Commission regulations pertaining to Commission property, fishing and boating. The specific purpose of the amendments is described in more detail under the summary of changes.
E. Summary of Changes
1) Section 53.13 (relating to domestic water supply reservoirs). For many years, the Commission has pursued an active program of encouraging agreements from municipal water supplies to allow fishing in the waters of domestic water supply reservoirs. The Commission has entered into agreements with numerous municipal authorities to make these reservoirs subject to Commission property regulations and establish additional restrictions. This course of action is beneficial to the angling public since it provides important fishing opportunities. It is also beneficial to the operators of the water supply reservoirs since it makes Commission property regulations and additional restrictions applicable to these sites.
In reviewing the regulation applicable to this program, it appeared that it can be streamlined. The regulation currently provides that additional restrictions contained in agreements between municipal authorities and the Commission shall be fully enforceable when posted at the site. The regulation goes on to list some of the additional restrictions applicable to many of the water supply reservoirs with which the Commission has agreements. Including the specific list of additional restrictions in the regulation text appears unnecessary since the regulation also provides that the additional restrictions are fully enforceable when approved by the Executive Director and posted at the site. Accordingly, the Commission has amended the regulation to address this issue.
2) Section 65.24 (relating to miscellaneous special regulations). Angling at the Fairmount fishway on the Schuylkill River has reached the point where a change in regulations is necessary for the well being of users as well as fish, including migratory species such as American shad, gizzard and hickory shad and striped bass. Fairmount Dam (river mile 9.0) is the first barrier that migratory species encounter as they come up the Schuylkill River. A fish passage facility was open for use in the spring of 1979 and was successful in passing migratory species, including American shad, gizzard shad, river herring and a host of warmwater/coolwater species. Aside from problems in maintaining an operational facility due to debris clogging the facility, fish have utilized this facility annually. At the same time, anglers began to frequent the site because: 1) it provides much needed shore access along the river; and 2) the dam provides excellent habitat for fish moving up the river. The Commission made an exception to the restriction prohibiting angling within 100 feet of a fishway so anglers could take advantage of the access at the fishway. Over the years, as water quality in the Schuylkill and Delaware continued to improve so did the density of fish congregating downstream of the dam and along the fishway wall. Angling interest did likewise, including those who opted to use snagging gear, particularly when schools of gizzard shad made snagging very easy. In addition, enterprising anglers with specialized nets would break through fences on the top of the fishway and place homemade gill nets in the vertical slots between individual pools. Despite herculean efforts by various waterways conservation Officers and their deputies, illegal angling activities at the fishway continue to increase. Thus, the Commission has amended this section to no longer permit fishing within 100 feet of the Fairmount fishway.
3) Section 93.2 (relating to permanent and temporary registration). At its October 1997 meeting, the Senate Game and Fisheries Committee asked the Commission staff to look at regulatory actions to address concerns related to Senate Bill 686. This bill, introduced by Senator Leonard Bodack, would change the code so that when a person receives a new boat registration, it would be valid for 2 years from the date of issuance. Thereafter, it is presumed that renewals would be issued on the same 2-year cycle. Thus, if a person obtained a new registration in July 1997, it would expire in July 1999 and so on.
Under the current cycle, renewals are sent out in the winter, and the vast majority of renewals are issued by March 31. This enables Commission staff to complete action on most renewals before they are inundated with new registrations in the summer. The Commission is able to process hundreds of thousands of new and renewal boat registrations each year with a very small staff of five permanent and four seasonal employes because the current law is effective in its timing of renewals vis-a-vis the bulk of new registrations. If SB 686 becomes law in its present form, more and more renewals will need to be processed in the same summer months when staff are handling most new registrations. Eventually, over a period of several years, it is likely that the majority of renewals and new registrations will be concentrated in the same months.
The Commission believes that its staff's efforts to provide the best possible service to boat registration customers depend, in part, on the ability to schedule the renewal cycle so that it does not conflict with the timing of the bulk new registrations. Changing over to a renewal cycle based on the month the boat is first registered would entail additional costs in terms of computer programming. The Commission fears that, if renewals become concentrated in the same months when most new registrations are issued, it may also face additional personnel costs.
Even though the Commission would like to maintain the current cycle whereby most renewals are handled in February and March, it agrees that some changes may be desirable to ensure that persons who obtain new boat registrations get fair value for their registration fees. The Commission recently approved changes to the boat registration regulations, effective January 1998, to permit the transfer of boat registrations so that persons who change boats in the middle of a registration cycle can keep on the same cycle at a cost of $5. Prior to this change, which was instituted as a direct result of Senator Bodack's inquiry, a registrant had to pay for a new registration when the registrant changed boats regardless of the timing or the circumstances.
The Commission has amended its regulations to ensure that no matter when someone obtains a new registration, the registrant will get to boat during two boating seasons on their initial registrations. Under current regulations, October 1 is the cutoff point for determining the duration of a new registration. Thus, a person who obtains a new registration in September 1997 will need to renew in March 1999, while a person who obtains a new registration in October 1997 will not need to renew until March 2000. Although it might seem the September registrant is being shortchanged, it is important to remember that, in most cases, the registrant had use of the boat for at least 60 days prior to September under the temporary registration sticker. Thus, even under the current regulations, a September registrant would be able to boat in July and August of one boating season and all of the following boating season under a single 2-year registration. The Commission has amended § 93.2 to make it clear that the expiration date of a 2-year registration will cover at least two boating seasons.
The amendments will not increase paperwork and will not create any new paperwork requirements.
G. Fiscal Impact
The amendments will have no adverse fiscal impact on the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions. The amendments will impose no new costs on the private sector or the general public.
H. Public Involvement
A notice of proposed rulemaking containing the proposed amendments was published at 28 Pa.B. 1837 (April 18, 1998). The Commission did not receive any public comments regarding the proposed amendments.
The Commission finds that:
(1) Public notice of intention to adopt the amendments adopted by this order has been given under sections 201 and 202 of the act of July 31, 1968 (P. L. 769, No. 240) (45 P. S. §§ 1201, 1202) and the regulations promulgated thereunder 1 Pa. Code §§ 7.1 and 7.2.
(2) A public comment period was provided, and the Commission did not receive any comments.
(3) The adoption of the amendments of the Commission in the manner provided in this order is necessary and appropriate for administration and enforcement of the authorizing statutes.
The Commission, acting under the authorizing statutes, orders that:
(a) The regulations of the Commission, 58 Pa. Code Chapters 53, 65 and 93, are amended by amending §§ 53.13, 65.24 and 93.2 to read as set forth at 28 Pa.B. 1837. (Editor's Note: A proposal to amend § 65.24 remains outstanding at 28 Pa.B. 3058 (July 4, 1998).)
(b) The Executive Director will submit this order and 28 Pa.B. 1837 to the Office of Attorney General for approval as to legality as required by law.
(c) The Executive Director shall certify this order and 28 Pa.B. 1837 and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau as required by law.
(d) This order shall take effect immediately upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
PETER A. COLANGELO,
Fiscal Note: Fiscal Note 48A-79 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulations.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 98-1549. Filed for public inspection September 25, 1998, 9:00 a.m.]
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