RULES AND REGULATIONS
FISH AND BOAT COMMISSION
[58 PA. CODE CH. 61]
Fishing; Seasons, Sizes and Creel Limits
[52 Pa.B. 7382]
[Saturday, December 3, 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 amendments update the Commission's regulations concerning Atlantic striped bass fishing in the Delaware River, West Branch Delaware River and River Estuary.
A. Effective Date
This final-form rulemaking will go into effect on January 1, 2023.
B. Contact Person
For further information on this final-form rulemaking, contact Vienna Vasquez, 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 § 61.2 (relating to Delaware River, West Branch Delaware River and River Estuary) are published under the statutory authority of 2102(b) of the code (relating to rules and regulations).
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
At its May 2022 quarterly meeting, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), which includes the Commonwealth as a member, approved Amendment 7 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic striped bass. The most recent striped bass stock assessment determined the stock was overfished and that overfishing was occurring. Based on these findings, the ASMFC's striped bass management plan calls for management actions to rebuild the stock. As part of Amendment 7, new requirements were established to address recreational release mortality, among other management plan components. Recreational release mortality is a large component of annual fishing mortality and Amendment 7 establishes a new gear restriction which prohibits gaffing striped bass when fishing recreationally. This new restriction, along with the existing circle hook requirement when fishing recreationally with bait, are intended to increase the chance of survival after a striped bass is released alive. To align with the provisions of Amendment 7, it is recommended to prohibit the use of a gaff when fishing for striped bass in the Delaware River, West Branch Delaware River and River Estuary.
In addition to the ASMFC mandated amendment, Commission staff identified an opportunity to further clarify language in § 61.2(b) pertaining to the legal harvestable size range for striped bass. The current language describes the minimum legal harvestable length but does not account for the maximum legal harvestable length in the striped bass slot limit. Although the harvest slot limit in the regulation chart clearly defines the upper and lower limits to the legal harvestable length range, it is recommended to add clarifying language to the body of the text in the regulation.
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. 5649 (September 3, 2022). The Commission did not receive any public comments regarding 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 no public comments were 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 63, are amended by amending § 61.2 to read as set forth at 52 Pa.B. 5649.
(B) The Executive Director will submit this order and 52 Pa.B. 5649 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. 5649 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-339 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulation.
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 22-1861. Filed for public inspection December 2, 2022, 9:00 a.m.]
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