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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 01-1166



[58 PA. CODE CH. 63]

Marking Fish

[31 Pa.B. 3411]

   The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) proposes to amend Chapter 63 (relating to general fishing regulations). The Commission is publishing this regulation as a notice of proposed rulemaking under the authority of 30 Pa.C.S. (relating to the Fish and Boat Code) (code). The proposed regulation relates to tagging, branding, marking or finclipping fish.

A.  Effective Date

   The proposed regulation, if approved on final-form rulemaking, will go into effect on January 1, 2002, or upon publication of an order adopting the regulation in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, whichever occurs later.

B.  Contact Person

   For further information on the proposed regulation, contact Laurie E. Shepler, Assistant Counsel, (717) 705-7815, P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000. This proposal is available electronically through the Commission's website (

C.  Statutory Authority

   The proposed regulation is published under the statutory authority of section 2102 of the code (relating to rules and regulations).

D.  Purpose and Background

   The proposed regulation is designed to update, modify and improve the Commission's regulations pertaining to fishing. The specific purpose of the proposed regulation is described in more detail under the summary of proposal.

E.  Summary of Proposal

   Tagging, branding, marking and finclipping have been used to identify fish for a variety of reasons by fisheries scientists, angling organizations, commercial establishments and even individual anglers for years. Reasons for ''marking'' fish have been equally diverse from well designed studies aimed at answering a specific question to a means of dispersing awards or simply identifying repeat catches at an angler's favorite fishing spots. Devices for ''marking'' fish go from sophisticated radio transmitters to crude home-made creations, sometimes as plain as a bent paperclip inserted through the dorsal fin of a trout. Tags are readily available from a variety of commercial sources, not only those in the fisheries supply business but poultry and livestock suppliers as well. In addition, tags and tagging kits can be purchased through popular fishing tackle catalogs. Each year, Commission staff encounter anglers who have caught fish with tags often with no labels as to who applied the tag or a means to learn about the tagging.

   Generally speaking, marked fish, particularly those with a skin piercing tag, are not better off from the activity. Commission biologists in conducting field studies requiring the marking of fish resort to tagging and fin clipping only as a last resort. These studies also must take into account mortality due to marking and behavior responses that may impact study results. Tagging efforts by anglers often are at the worst time of the year for fish as warming water temperatures increase the likelihood that tagged fish may become infected due to the placement of tags and entry wounds.

   When asked by the general public about tagging fish, Commission staff can only attempt to persuade the requestor to not do any, due not only to the limited information that might come from the effort, but the likelihood of damage and even death to tagged fish. Given the Commission's stewardship role in regard to fish and other aquatic life, the Commission is proposing a new regulation that prohibits tagging and other forms of marking except under certain conditions. The Commission proposes that the new regulation read as set forth in Annex A.

F.  Paperwork

   The proposed regulation will not increase paperwork and will create no new paperwork requirements.

G.  Fiscal Impact

   The proposed regulation will have no adverse fiscal impact on the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions. The proposed regulation will impose no new costs on the private sector or the general public.

H.  Public Comments

   Interested persons are invited to submit written comments, objections or suggestions about the proposed regulation to the Executive Director, Fish and Boat Commission, P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000, within 30 days after publication of this notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Comments submitted by facsimile will not be accepted.

   Comments also may be submitted electronically to A subject heading of the proposal and a return name and address must be included in each transmission. In addition, all electronic comments must be contained in the text of the transmission, not in an attachment. If an acknowledgment of electronic comments is not received by the sender within 2 working days, the comments should be retransmitted to ensure receipt.

Executive Director

   Fiscal Note:  48A-120. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.

   (Editor's Note:  The following section is new. It has been printed in regular type to enhance readibility.)

Annex A



Subpart B.  FISHING


§ 63.45.  Tagging, branding, marking and finclipping of fish.

   (a)  It is unlawful for a person to implant tracking devices in or to tag, brand, mark or fin clip any fish taken from the waters of this Commonwealth, unless the fish are purchased from an authorized commercial aquaculture facility, are part of a Commission-recognized and sanctioned stocking by a cooperative nursery, are authorized by a scientific collector's permit issued by the Commission or are part of a tagged fish contest in a boundary lake for which the Commission has issued a permit.

   (b)  There shall be a rebuttable presumption that a person implanting a tracking device in or tagging, branding, marking or fin clipping a fish is in violation of this section if the person does not have in his possession proof that the fish was purchased from an authorized commercial aquaculture facility, is part of a Commission-recognized and sanctioned stocking by a cooperative nursery, is authorized by a scientific collector's permit or is part of a tagged fish contest in a boundary lake for which the Commission has issued a permit.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 01-1166. Filed for public inspection June 29, 2001, 9:00 a.m.]

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