RULES AND REGULATIONS
FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
[58 PA. CODE CH. 61]
Fishing; Seasons, Sizes and Creel Limits
[52 Pa.B. 5946]
[Saturday, September 17, 2022]
The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) amends Chapter 61 (relating to seasons, sizes and creel limits). The Commission is publishing this final-form rulemaking under the authority of 30 Pa.C.S. (relating to Fish and Boat Code) (code). The amendment updates the Commission's regulations concerning American shad fishing in the Delaware River, West Branch Delaware River and River Estuary.
A. Effective Date
This final-form rulemaking shall take effect on January 1, 2023.
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 website at www.fishandboat.com.
C. Statutory Authority
The amendment to § 61.2 (relating to Delaware River, West Branch Delaware River and River Estuary) is published under the statutory authority of section 2102(b) of the code (relating to rules and regulations).
D. Purpose and Background
The specific purpose and background of the amendment is described in more detail under the summary of changes.
E. Summary of Changes
American shad are an anadromous species. Adults inhabit the marine waters of the Atlantic Ocean, annually returning to natal freshwater systems during spring for spawning. Young-of-the-year utilize freshwater systems as nurseries, before out-migrating during fall. American shad fulfill a foundational ecological role as forage for many piscivores within oceanic, coastal and connected inland waters, in addition to supporting well-established recreational and commercial fishing opportunities throughout their range along the Atlantic Coast.
Multiple Federal, state and tribal jurisdictions jointly manage American shad fisheries along the Atlantic Coast, including the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and specifically within the Delaware River basin, the Delaware River Basin Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative (Co-op). The Commission is a member of both entities. ASMFC's Amendment 3 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for shad and river herring requires Delaware River Basin states jointly submit a Sustainable Fisheries Management Plan for continuance of American shad fisheries for all connected waters within the Delaware River Basin.
In 2020, the ASMFC stock assessment workgroup developed the most current consensus population assessment for the Atlantic Coast. Findings specific to the Delaware River Basin indicated the Delaware River American shad population is experiencing unsustainable mortality. Given the ASMFC stock assessment workgroup findings, Co-op members, including this Commonwealth, have agreed to reduce American shad harvest by approximately 33% for both the recreational and commercial fisheries.
This Commonwealth does not have a commercial fishery for American shad; however, a popular recreational fishery exists in the Delaware River Basin. Given the agreed upon 33% reduction in American shad harvest by Co-op member states, it is recommended that the Commission amend the daily creel of American shad from three to two fish per day on waters managed under § 61.2. New York, New Jersey and Delaware are seeking similar reductions to the recreational daily creel limits within their respective jurisdictional waters in the Delaware River Basin.
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 52 Pa.B. 3320 (June 11, 2022). The Commission received one public comment supporting 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), referred to 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 one public comment supporting the proposal was received.
(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 61, are amended by amending § 61.2 to read as set forth at 52 Pa.B. 3320.
(B) The Executive Director will submit this order and 52 Pa.B. 3320 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 52 Pa.B. 3320 and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau as required by law.
(D) This order shall take effect on January 1, 2023.
TIMOTHY D. SCHAEFFER,
Fiscal Note: Fiscal Note 48A-326 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulation.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 22-1418. Filed for public inspection September 16, 2022, 9:00 a.m.]
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