RULES AND REGULATIONS
FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
[58 PA. CODE CHS. 61 AND 65]
[33 Pa.B. 1229]
The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) amends Chapters 61 and 65 (relating to seasons, sizes and creel limits; and special fishing regulations). The Commission is publishing final-form rulemaking under the authority of 30 Pa.C.S. (relating to the Fish and Boat Code) (code). The amendments pertain to fishing.
A. Effective Date
The amendments will go into effect upon publication of this order adopting the final-form rulemaking in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
B. Contact Person
For further information on this final-form rulemaking, contact Laurie E. Shepler, Assistant Counsel, P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000, (717) 705-7815. This final-form rulemaking is available electronically through the Commission's website (http://www.fish.state.pa.us).
C. Statutory Authority
The amendment to § 61.2 (relating to Delaware River and River Estuary) is published under the statutory authority of section 2102 of the code (relating to rules and regulations). The amendment to § 65.24 (relating to miscellaneous special regulations) is published under the statutory authority of section 2307 of the code (relating to waters limited to specific purposes).
D. Purpose and Background
This final-form rulemaking is designed to update, modify and improve the Commission's regulations pertaining to fishing. The specific purpose of this final-form rulemaking is described in more detail under the summary of changes.
E. Summary of Changes
(1) Section 61.2. Management (including regulations) of Delaware River and Delaware Estuary fish stocks is somewhat complicated given that four state jurisdictions and Federal interests are involved. Over the years, major efforts have been made to promulgate consistent regulations across the four jurisdictions or at least those having the subject species. This was done not only for ease of enforcement but also to simplify matters for the angling public. As the status of fish populations changes so does the need to address regulations, which has been the case with striped bass in the past 20 years or so.
Currently, the harvest of river herring, which include alewife (alosa pseudoharengus) and blueback herring (alosa aestivalis), in the Delaware River is unregulated in this Commonwealth. There are no restrictions because quite simply there was little angling activity on these fish due to low abundance, other more sought after species, and the like. Efforts are presently underway to restore herring runs in select tributaries in Chester County. In addition, with the recent expansion of the striped bass population and sport fishery on the New Jersey coast and in the Delaware River and Estuary, river herring have become a very popular live bait. The market for individual live herring has been reported as high as $5 per fish. Even though New Jersey has a 50 herring daily limit, anglers are coming into this Commonwealth, purchasing a fishing license, catching herring and then returning to New Jersey to sell their catch. Biological and Law Enforcement staff in New Jersey and this Commonwealth believe that uniform regulations would be in the best interest of the angling public and management of herring stocks.
New Jersey is proposing to reclassify river herring as a bait fish, which would limit daily harvest to 35. The Commonwealth has been requested to consider imposing a similar daily creel limit. The Commonwealth and New Jersey historically have worked together to insure that harvest regulations accomplish common management goals and are consistent between states on our common border water.
Accordingly, the Commission amended § 61.2 to establish a daily limit of 35 for river herring (alewife and blueback herring) in the Delaware River, Delaware Estuary and Delaware River/Estuary tributaries from the mouths upstream to the limit of tidal influence and the Lehigh River from its mouth upstream to the first dam in Easton, PA. The Commission adopted the amendment as proposed.
(2) Section 65.24. Lake Winola (formerly Breeches Pond) is a natural lake in Overfield Township, Wyoming County. Years ago, a concrete and earth filled dam 13 feet high was constructed across the outlet resulting in the current 198 acre pool. Lake Winola has a maximum depth of 66 feet, a mean depth of 30 feet and a surface total alkalinity of 38 parts per million. The Commission manages the lake as a warm water/cool water fishery with seasonal trout fishing opportunities provided by the stocking of adult size trout. An important sportfish, largemouth bass, have received attention from the Commission's Area Fisheries Manager with regard to attempts to improve growth rates and overall size structure in the population. Previous efforts centered on efforts to establish other forage species, but those efforts had little impact on bass growth.
Based on three electrofishing samples (1991, 1995 and 2000), the Lake Winola largemouth bass population can be characterized as high density and slow growing. The growth rate, particularly for bass 2 years of age and older, was well below the State average. Anglers have reported high catch rates of bass with very few legal size individuals. Low relative weights of bass greater than 8 inches in length suggest that these fish are very vulnerable to angling. In addition, length frequency distribution indicates that the population size structure has been impacted by angler harvest.
Largemouth bass populations are typically managed using minimum length limits. As the minimum length limit increases, there is a tendency to stockpile increasing numbers of sublegal bass. Stockpiling is not a problem in a fast growing population, but is undesirable in a slow growing high-density situation. For this reason, big bass special regulations as well as the current Statewide regulation are inappropriate for Lake Winola. Slot lengthlimits are an option to improve the size structure of high density, slowing growing largemouth bass populations. The success of a slot limit depends on anglers willing to harvest subslot fish. The Commission adopted a protected slot limit of 12 to 18 inches at Lake Winola. Harvest of smaller more numerous bass should improve growth of older bass once they enter the 12 to 18 inch window. Also, opportunity will exist to harvest the occasional trophy size bass. The Commission adopted the amendment to this section as proposed.
The final-form rulemaking will not increase paperwork and will create no new paperwork requirements.
G. Fiscal Impact
The final-form rulemaking will have no adverse fiscal impact on the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions. The final-form rulemaking will impose no new costs on the private sector or the general public.
H. Public Involvement
A notice of proposed rulemaking was published at 32 Pa. B. 4869 (October 5, 2002). The Commission did not receive any public comments regarding the proposals during the public comment period. Prior to the formal comment period, the Commission received one public comment opposing the imposition of a protected slot limit for bass on Lake Winola. Copies of the public comment were provided to the Commissioners.
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 and 1202) and the regulations promulgated thereunder, 1 Pa. Code §§ 7.1 and 7.2.
(2) A public comment period was provided, and no comments were received during that period.
(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 61 and 65, are amended by amending §§ 61.2 and 65.24 to read as set forth at 32 Pa.B. 4869.
(b) The Executive Director will submit this order and 32 Pa.B. 4869 to the Office of Attorney General for approval as to legality as required by law.
(c) The Executive Director shall certify this order and 32 Pa.B. 4869 and deposit the same 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-133 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulations.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 03-392. Filed for public inspection March 7, 2003, 9:00 a.m.]
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