RULES AND REGULATIONS
FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
[ 58 PA. CODE CH. 65 ]
Fishing; Special Fishing Regulations
[51 Pa.B. 431]
[Saturday, January 23, 2021]
The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) amends Chapter 65 (relating to special fishing regulations). The Commission is publishing this final-form rulemaking under the authority of 30 Pa.C.S. (relating to Fish and Boat Code) (code). The amendments update the Commission's regulations for angling on Penns Creek.
A. Effective Date
This final-form rulemaking will go into effect January 1, 2021.
B. Contact Person
For further information on this final-form rulemaking, contact Wayne Melnick, Esq., P.O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000, (717) 705-7810. This final-form rulemaking is available on the Commission's web site at www.fishandboat.com.
C. Statutory Authority
The amendments to § 65.24 (relating to miscellaneous special regulations) are published under the statutory authority of section 2307(a) of the code (relating to waters limited to specific purposes).
D. Purpose and Background
The specific purpose and background of the amendments are described in more detail under the summary of changes.
E. Summary of Changes
Penns Creek is a large, limestone-influenced stream that supports one of the most popular and renowned wild Brown Trout fisheries in this Commonwealth and the eastern United States. Its excellent insect hatches, large size and scenic setting in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania draws anglers from across the United States. Penns Creek is delineated into eight stream sections for fisheries management purposes, with Sections 01—07 managed for trout. Penns Creek, Section 03, extends for 7 miles from the confluence with Elk Creek in Coburn, PA downstream to 600 meters downstream of the confluence with Swift Run. Section 03 was managed as a stocked trout fishery until 1992 when it was designated by the Commission as a Class A wild trout stream and the stocking of hatchery trout was discontinued in favor of wild trout management.
During 1993, landowner and angler surveys were conducted on Section 03 to inform management decisions. Based on this information and biological data collected during 1991 and 1992, miscellaneous special regulations (later renamed all-tackle trophy trout under § 65.4a (relating to all-tackle trophy trout)) were developed for Section 03 and implemented on January 1, 1995. Section 03 was managed with all-tackle trophy trout regulations for 19 years from 1995 to 2013.
During 2012, Commission staff conducted a review of the management of Penns Creek, Section 03. Commission staff solicited feedback regarding a potential regulation change from landowners and anglers by means of letters and a public meeting. Additionally, Commission staff conducted an angler use, harvest and opinion survey to help inform a regulation change. To address landowner and angler feedback, to further increase the abundance of large wild brown trout and provide the opportunity to use all tackle types and harvest some trout, a new miscellaneous special regulation (slot limit) was established for a 7-year period from January 1, 2014, through December 31, 2020. The slot limit regulation allows for year-round fishing, use of all tackle types, and the harvest of two trout per day that are at least 7 inches but less than 12 inches in length from the opening day of trout season through Labor Day, with no harvest permitted the remainder of the year.
The trout population was monitored before and after implementation of the slot limit regulation in Section 03. Results of the monitoring showed a significant increase in the electrofishing catch rates of larger (≥ 16 inches) brown trout during the post-slot limit regulation implementation period (2014—2019). These results suggest that the slot limit regulations likely played an important role in the increased electrofishing catch of large brown trout in Section 03.
In 2019, Commission staff conducted an angler use, harvest and opinion survey to evaluate the social aspects of the regulation change and estimate angler harvest. Results showed low harvest of trout occurred and high angler support for continuing the slot limit regulations on Penns Creek, Section 03. Despite low angler harvest under the slot limit rule, these regulations provide the opportunity for anglers to harvest a trout if they wish, which was an important social consideration when the regulations were implemented.
Given the success of the experimental slot limit regulation program on Penns Creek, Section 03, Commission staff recommended that the Commission continue this regulatory approach until further notice. The regulation would allow for the use of all tackle types and harvest of up to two trout per day that are at least 7 inches but less than 12 inches in length from the opening day of trout season through Labor Day. No harvest would be permitted for the remainder of the year.
The Commission therefore amends § 65.24 to read as set forth in the proposed rulemaking published at 50 Pa.B. 3898 (August 1, 2020).
This final-form rulemaking will not increase paperwork and will not create new paperwork requirements.
G. Fiscal Impact
This final-form rulemaking will have no adverse fiscal impact on the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions.
H. Public Comments
A notice of proposed rulemaking was published at 50 Pa.B. 3898. The Commission received a total of 127 public comments regarding the proposal: 86 supported the proposal, 20 opposed the proposal, and 21 comments did not pertain to the proposal.
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), known as the Commonwealth Documents Law, and the regulations promulgated thereunder, 1 Pa. Code §§ 7.1 and 7.2 (relating to notice of proposed rulemaking required; and adoption of regulations).
(2) A public comment period was provided and 127 comments were received: 86 supported the proposal, 20 opposed the proposal, and 21 comments did not pertain to the proposal.
(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 Chapter 65, are amended by amending § 65.24 to read as set forth at 50 Pa.B. 3898.
(B) The Executive Director will submit this order and 50 Pa.B. 3898 to the Office of Attorney General for approval as to legality and form as required by law.
(C) The Executive Director shall certify this order and 50 Pa.B. 3898 and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau as required by law.
(D) This order shall take effect January 1, 2021.
TIMOTHY D. SCHAEFFER,
Fiscal Note: Fiscal Note 48A-300 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulation.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 21-112. Filed for public inspection January 22, 2021, 9:00 a.m.]
No part of the information on this site may be reproduced for profit or sold for profit.
This material has been drawn directly from the official Pennsylvania Bulletin full text database. Due to the limitations of HTML or differences in display capabilities of different browsers, this version may differ slightly from the official printed version.