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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 06-389



[58 PA. CODE CH. 63]

General Fishing Regulations

[36 Pa.B. 1124]

   The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) amends Chapter 63 (relating to general fishing regulations). The Commission is publishing this final-form rulemaking under the authority of 30 Pa.C.S. (relating to the Fish and Boat Code) (code). The final-form rulemaking amends the regulation concerning the use of long bows, crossbows, spears and gigs. In addition, the final-form rulemaking updates the regulation regarding field dressing of fish and provides more detailed regulation of officially-recognized fish cleaning stations.

A.  Effective Date

   The final-form rulemaking will go into effect upon publication of this order in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

B.  Contact Person

   For further information on the final-form rulemaking, contact Laurie E. Shepler, Esq., P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000, (717) 705-7810. This final-form rulemaking is available on the Commission's website at

C.  Statutory Authority

   The amendment to § 63.8 (relating to long bows, crossbows, spears and gigs) and the addition of § 63.15a (relating to officially-recognized fish cleaning stations) are published under the statutory authority of section 2102 of the code (relating to rules and regulations). The amendment to § 63.15 (relating to field dressing and disposal of fish) is published under the statutory authority of section 2102 of the code and section 2907.3 of the code (relating to fishing guide and charter boat permits).

D.  Purpose and Background

   The final-form rulemaking is designed to update, modify and improve the Commission's regulations relating to the use of long bows, crossbows, spears and gigs and fish cleaning and disposal of fish. The specific purpose of the final-form rulemaking is described in more detail under the summary of changes.

E.  Summary of Changes

   (1)  Section 63.8. Currently, this section allows carp, gar, suckers and eels to be taken with long bows, crossbows, spears or gigs. However, spotted gar is listed as an endangered species and longnose gar is listed as a candidate species in this Commonwealth. In addition, the American eel is currently under review by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service for possible listing as a Federally endangered or threatened species. The Commission believes that to allow continued harvest of ''gar'' and ''eels'' by these gears is inconsistent with the protection of species of special concern, and the species should be eliminated from § 63.8(a). Accordingly, the Commission amended § 63.8 as set forth in the notice of proposed rulemaking.

   (2)  Sections 63.15 and 63.15a. During the early part of 2005, the Commission, with the assistance of a workgroup comprised of charter boat captains and fishing guides, developed regulations pertaining to charter boat/fishing guide operations. A concern was raised during the workgroup meetings regarding the current field dressing of fish regulations in § 63.15. The workgroup, especially the charter captains, requested a change in the regulations to allow them to fully process fish caught by their customers.

   Also, the Commission is aware of the development of several noncommercial official fish cleaning stations on the Lake Erie shoreline and at other locations throughout this Commonwealth. These facilities are generally open to the public for their use at no cost to process their catch. The current regulations prohibit anglers using these facilities to fully process their catch.

   Accordingly, the Commission proposed to amend its regulations to address the concerns raised by the charter captains and to provide anglers with the ability to fully process their catch at an officially recognized noncommercial fish cleaning station. The proposed amendments also addressed the disposal of fish carcasses and parts thereof in Commonwealth waters and adjacent lands. The proposed amendments provided for a greater degree of uniformity in the processing of fish and carcass disposal with the current regulations in New York and Ohio.

   In addition, the Commission proposed to add § 63.15a. This new section allows for two types of officially recognized fishing cleaning stations--commercial and noncommercial. Operators of commercial stations are required to give the person who receives a filleted fish a signed, dated receipt indicating the species and the number of fish dressed. Operators of noncommercial stations are not. The proposed amendments also clarified that the operator of an officially-recognized fish cleaning station will allow officers authorized to enforce the code access to the station to inspect angler catches to determine compliance with seasons, sizes and creel limits.

   On final-form rulemaking, the Commission adopted the proposed amendment to § 63.15 with one change. Specifically, the Commission made it unlawful to discard any fish carcass or parts into the waters of this Commonwealth regardless of the distance from shore. The Commission adopted § 63.15a as set forth in the notice of proposed rulemaking.

F.  Paperwork

   The final-form rulemaking will create no new paperwork requirements because the Commission's current regulations allow for operators of fish cleaning stations to apply for official recognition. Paperwork may increase slightly because the Commission anticipates that more operators of noncommercial stations will apply for official recognition status.

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. There is no fee to apply for recognition as an officially recognized fish cleaning station.

H.  Public Involvement

   A notice of proposed rulemaking was published at 35 Pa.B. 6539 (December 3, 2005). The Commission received two comments from one individual expressing concerns about the proposed amendment to § 63.8 and received one public comment from an individual supporting the proposed amendment. The Commission also received a total of ten comments pertaining to the proposed amendment to § 63.15 and proposed § 63.15a. The Commission received two letters from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Presque Isle State Park and the Erie County Department of Health earlier this year when Commission staff solicited input from those agencies. Both agencies raised concerns over the disposal of fish carcasses in the lake and cited issues concerning human health. The Erie County Department of Health also mentioned concerns regarding avian botulism.

   Prior to the formal public comment period, the Commission received four public comments. One supports fish cleaning along streams; one believes that the Commission should consider an exception for discarding entrails in Commonwealth waters within 100 feet of shore for less than three fish; one specifically supports the restrictions in subsection (g) making it unlawful to discard any fish carcass or parts within 100 feet of shore; and one supports the entire proposed rulemaking. During the formal public comment period, the Commission received five public comments. Three oppose the discarding of fish carcasses in any waters of this Commonwealth regardless of how far from the shore. A comment from the Erie County Department of Health raises environmental and health concerns pertaining to disposal of carcasses and parts in Lake Erie waters. Another expresses concerns over allowing the disposal to occur within 100 feet of shore. One of the five comments also objects to the amount of paperwork that will be required for a fish cleaning station. Copies of the public comments 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 the comments that were received were considered.

   (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 §§ 63.8 and 63.15a to read as set forth at 35 Pa.B. 6539 and by amending § 63.15 to read as set forth in Annex A.

   (b)  The Executive Director will submit this order, 35 Pa.B. 6539 and Annex A to the Office of Attorney General for approval as to legality as required by law.

   (c)  The Executive Director shall certify this order, 35 Pa.B. 6539 and Annex A and deposit them with the Legislative Reference Bureau as required by law.

   (d)  This order shall take effect upon publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Executive Director

   Fiscal Note:  Fiscal Note 48A-178 remains valid for the final adoption of the subject regulations.

Annex A



Subpart B.  FISHING


§ 63.15.  Field dressing and disposal of fish.

   (a)  Except as otherwise provided in this section, it is unlawful to possess a fish in any form or condition other than in the whole or having the entrails removed while on shore, along the waters of this Commonwealth, onboard a boat or on a dock, pier, launch area or a parking lot adjacent thereto.

   (b)  Fish may be processed fully if they are being prepared for immediate consumption.

   (c)  This section does not apply to fish processed at a fish cleaning station officially recognized under § 63.15a (relating to officially-recognized fish cleaning stations).

   (d)  Provided that the requirements of this subsection are met, this section does not apply to fish processed by a permitted charter boat/fishing guide operation. The charter boat operator or fishing guide may fully process the fish at any time provided the charter boat operator or fishing guide retains the carcass until possession of the fish is transferred to the customer on shore. The charter boat operator or fishing guide shall give the customer who receives the processed fish a signed, dated receipt on the form prescribed by the Commission.

   (e)  This section does not apply to fish caught or sold in compliance with Chapter 31 of the code (relating to regulated fishing lakes).

   (f)  This section does not apply to fish caught under a Lake Erie commercial license issued consistent with Chapter 29 of the code (relating to special licenses and permits) after the fish reach established retail or wholesale markets.

   (g)  It is unlawful to discard any fish carcass or parts thereof into the waters of this Commonwealth or upon any public or private lands contiguous to the waters unless one of the following conditions apply:

   (1)  On lands with the permission of the landowner.

   (2)  Where fish are properly disposed into suitable garbage or refuse collection systems or at officially recognized fish cleaning stations.

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 06-389. Filed for public inspection March 10, 2006, 9:00 a.m.]

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