FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
[58 PA. CODE CH. 61]
Fishing; Delaware River and River Estuary and the Conowingo Reservoir
[37 Pa.B. 2692]
[Saturday, June 16, 2007]
The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) proposes to amend Chapter 61 (relating to seasons, sizes and creel limits). The Commission is publishing this proposed rulemaking under the authority of 30 Pa.C.S. (relating to the Fish and Boat Code) (code).
A. Effective Date
The proposed rulemaking, if approved on final-form rulemaking, will go into effect on January 1, 2008.
B. Contact Person
For further information on the proposed rulemaking, contact Jason E. Oyler, Esq., P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000, (717) 705-7827. This proposed rulemaking is available on the Commission's website at www.fish. state.pa.us.
C. Statutory Authority
The proposed amendments to §§ 61.2 and 61.4 (relating to Delaware River and River Estuary; and Conowingo Reservoir) are published under the statutory authority of section 2102(b) of the code (relating to rules and regulations).
D. Purpose and Background
The proposed rulemaking is designed to improve, enhance and update the Commission's fishing regulations. The specific purpose of the proposed rulemaking is described in more detail under the summary of proposals.
E. Summary of Proposals
(1) Section 61.2. Three jurisdictions, New York, New Jersey and the Commonwealth, work in cooperative fashion in setting regulations for the Delaware River and the West Branch Delaware River because both are border waters. Differences in the rulemaking processes, license years and fisheries within different reaches may result in regulations being out of synchrony for a year or more. Jurisdictions attempt to provide consistency for anglers by minimizing regulatory differences among states. The Commission proposes the following changes to reconcile the differences between the jurisdictions.
Black bass regulations were adopted in 2006 on the Delaware River downstream of I-84 in New Jersey and this Commonwealth that include a 12-inch minimum length limit, five bass per day creel limit and a no-harvest, catch-and-immediate-release season that begins on the first Saturday after April 11 and extends through 12:01 a.m. on the first Saturday after June 11. These regulations provide an opportunity for competitive anglers to conduct ''paper'' or catch-measure-immediate release tournaments during the catch-and-release season. In 2006, New York adopted similar regulations on the section of the Delaware River upstream of I-84. The Commission currently manages this Commonwealth's section of the Delaware as a year-round season. Thus, New York and the Commonwealth have different black bass regulations in the upper part of the Delaware. If the Commission adopts the more conservative regulations upstream of I-84, as proposed, consistent harvest rules for black bass will apply throughout the entire Delaware River and West Branch Delaware River in this Commonwealth and all border jurisdictions.
In 2006, the Commission adopted new Statewide regulations for muskellunge and tiger muskellunge. These regulations, which went into effect on January 1, 2007, provide for a year-round season, a 40-inch minimum size limit and a one-fish creel limit on Commonwealth inland waters. Currently, the regulations on the Delaware River consist of a year-round season, a 30-inch minimum size limit and a two-fish creel limit. On December 28, 2006, the Commission's Division of Fisheries Management staff discussed amending the regulations to provide for a 40-inch minimum size limit and a one-fish creel limit with staff from the New Jersey Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. Staff from both agencies stated their support for the changes in muskellunge and muskellunge hybrid regulations for the Delaware River. In both New Jersey and New York, the earliest the regulation changes would take effect is October 2008. Those agencies will initiate the process to make their regulations consistent upon action by the Commission to amend the minimum size limit to 40 inches and the daily limit to one.
Currently, there are a number of species that are not identified in § 61.2. For example, no panfish are listed in this section. The regulations in New Jersey and New York are inconsistent with each other and also are inconsistent with the Commonwealth's inland regulations. The Commission does not believe that it would be feasible to attempt to reconcile New York and New Jersey regulations with the Commission's regulations in the near future for those species not already listed under this section. Therefore, the Commission proposes that § 61.2 be amended to clarify that for all species not listed, the Commonwealth's inland regulations apply.
Finally, the Commission proposes that the introductory paragraph to § 61.2(d) be amended to make it clear that the regulations apply to the West Branch Delaware River as well as the main stem and other tributaries. The Commission proposes to amend § 61.2 to read as set forth in Annex A.
(2) Section 61.4. The Commission currently manages two reservoirs that it shares as boundary waters with Maryland: Youghiogheny Reservoir and Conowingo Reservoir. By agreement with Maryland, the Commission's regulations are applied to both states' portions of the Youghiogheny Reservoir and Maryland's regulations are applied to both states' portions of Conowingo Reservoir. Portions of the regulations currently in place for certain species on Conowingo Reservoir under § 61.4 are not consistent with the current Maryland regulations. Specifically, the harvest limit for trout is two per day in Maryland, as opposed to five per day as listed in § 61.4. There is a baitfish daily limit of 35 in Maryland, as opposed to no limit in § 61.4. The harvest of mussels and clams is prohibited in Maryland and § 61.4 is silent. In Maryland, river herring (alewife and blueback herring) have an open season and no size or daily creel limits while § 61.4 disallows fishing for these species. Maryland's regulations provide that there are no seasons, size or creel limits for those species not specifically listed in the regulations for Conowingo Reservoir. The Commission's regulations do not currently address this matter. Accordingly, the Commission proposes to amend § 61.4 to read as set forth in Annex A.
The proposed rulemaking will not increase paperwork and will create no new paperwork requirements.
G. Fiscal Impact
The proposed rulemaking will have no adverse fiscal impact on the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions. The proposed rulemaking 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 rulemaking to the Executive Director, Fish and Boat Commission, P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000 within 30 days after publication of this proposed rulemaking in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Comments submitted by facsimile will not be accepted.
Comments also may be submitted electronically by completing the form at www.state.pa.us/Fish/reg comments. If an acknowledgment of electronic comments is not received by the sender within 2 working days, the comments should be retransmitted to ensure receipt. Electronic comments submitted in any other manner will not be accepted.
DOUGLAS J. AUSTEN, Ph.D.,
Fiscal Note: 48A-193. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.
TITLE 58. RECREATION
PART II. FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
Subpart B. FISHING
CHAPTER 61. SEASONS, SIZES AND CREEL LIMITS
§ 61.2. Delaware River and River Estuary.
* * * * *
(d) The following seasons, sizes and creel limits apply to the Delaware River, West Branch Delaware River and to Delaware River tributaries, from the mouths of the tributaries upstream to the limit of the tidal influence and the Lehigh River from its mouth upstream to the first dam in Easton, Pennsylvania:
DAILY LIMIT * * * * * BASS
Largemouth and Smallmouth
[North of I-84: Open year-round] [12 inches] [5 (combined species)] [South of I-84:] January 1 to midnight the day before the first Saturday after April 11 and [October 1] 12:01 a.m. the first Saturday after June 11 to midnight December 31 12 inches 5 (combined species) 12:01 a.m. the first Saturday after April 11 to 12:01 a.m. the first Saturday after June 11 NO HARVEST--Catch and immediate release only [12:01 a.m. the first Saturday after June 11 to midnight September 30] [12 inches] [5 (combined species)] MUSKELLUNGE AND MUSKELLUNGE HYBRIDS Open year-round  40 inches [2 (combined species)] 1 * * * * * OTHER SPECIES Inland seasons, size and creel limits apply except for waters under special regulations (See Chapter 65). See § 61.1 (relating to Commonwealth inland waters).
§ 61.4. Conowingo Reservoir.
* * * * *
(d) The following seasons, sizes and creel limits apply to the Conowingo Reservoir, which includes the Susquehanna River from the Maryland State Line upstream to Holtwood Dam:
DAILY LIMIT All Species of Trout and Salmon Open year-round No minimum  2 (combined species) * * * * * AMERICAN and HICKORY SHAD [and ALEWIFE and BLUEBACK HERRING (collectively known as river herring)] Closed (no open season) Closed 0 ALEWIFE and BLUEBACK HERRING (collectively known as river herring) January 1 through June 15 No minimum No daily limit [HERRING Open year-round No minimum No daily limit] * * * * *
FISH BAIT[, except MADTOMS]
Open year-round No minimum [No daily limit] 35 [MADTOMS No minimum 35] ALL OTHER FISH SPECIES Open year-round No minimum No daily limit BIVALVES/SHELLFISH (Mussels/Clams) Closed (no open season) Closed 0
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 07-1041. Filed for public inspection June 15, 2007, 9:00 a.m.]
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