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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 02-522



[58 PA. CODE CH. 69]

Seasons, Sizes and Creel Limits for Lake Erie

[32 Pa.B. 1728]

   The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) proposes to amend Chapter 69 (relating to fishing in Lake Erie and boundary lakes). The Commission is publishing this amendment as a notice of proposed rulemaking under the authority of 30 Pa.C.S. (relating to the Fish and Boat Code) (code). The proposed amendment relates to fishing.

A.  Effective Date

   The proposed amendment, if approved on final-form rulemaking, will go into effect on January 1, 2003, or upon publication of an order adopting the amendment in the Pennsylvania Bulletin, whichever occurs later.

B.  Contact Person

   For further information on the proposed amendment, contact Laurie E. Shepler, Assistant Counsel, (717) 705-7815), P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000. This proposal is available electronically through the Commission's website (

C.  Statutory Authority

   The proposed amendment to § 69.12 (relating to seasons, sizes and creel limits--Lake Erie) is published under the statutory authority of section 2102 of the code (relating to rules and regulations).

D.  Purpose and Background

   The proposed amendment is designed to update, modify and improve the Commission's regulations pertaining to fishing. The specific purpose of the proposed amendment is described in more detail under the summary of proposal.

E.  Summary of Proposal

   Current angling regulations, established in 1996, to conserve yellow perch in this Commonwealth's waters of Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay, include a daily possession limit of 20 fish, an 8 inch minimum size limit and no closed season for sport fishing. On the open lake, these regulations were expected to: (1) constrain the harvest at or below the annual quota or Total Allowable Catch (TAC); and (2) reduce the harvest of small immature perch.

   The same angling regulations were imposed upon the yellow perch fishery in Presque Isle Bay that has been subjected to very high fishing mortality especially during the ice fishery. The ice fishery had been responsible for the excessive over-fishing harvest prior to the implementation of the 8-inch minimum size limit and 20 perch per day possession limit.

   The Commission's Lake Erie Research Unit is committed to continuing an intensive assessment of yellow perch to evaluate the yellow perch population, angler use and yellow perch harvest and to make any appropriate adjustments to the yellow perch regulations. On the open lake, strong yellow perch year classes and conservative regulations have resulted in increased population abundance at the highest levels since 1990, and yellow perch catch rates continue to increase. However, a sizeable proportion of the open lake angler catch was released under the 8 inch minimum size limit, and mortality of these release fish was high because of hydraulic decompression. The Lake Erie Boat Angler Survey in the summer of 2001, demonstrated that the 20 yellow perch creel limit was constraining the yellow perch harvest within the Lake Erie Committee TAC. The Bay yellow perch population has also rebounded subsequent to the implementation of the regulations. However, because of the high minimum size limit relative to the relatively slow perch growth, the Bay creel rate has been low. The harvest of Bay caught yellow perch was only 7-19% of those caught during the years 1997-2001.

   These intensive yellow perch assessments have shown that reducing the minimum size limit to 7 inches will continue to adequately protect yellow perch spawning stock under the condition of higher yellow perch population sizes. This should reduce complaints about catch and release mortality on the open lake and complaints about the low harvest rates on Presque Isle Bay. Commission staff expect harvest to increase by at least 30% by Presque Isle Bay anglers; however, on the open lake harvest, increases due to reducing the minimum size limit should be a little more than 15%.

   Accordingly, the Commission proposes to amend § 69.12 to reduce the minimum size limit of yellow perch on Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay from 8 inches to 7 inches. The daily creel limit of 20 and the no closed season will remain in effect.

F.  Paperwork

   The proposed amendment will not increase paperwork and will create no new paperwork requirements.

G.  Fiscal Impact

   The proposed amendment will have no adverse fiscal impact on the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions. The proposed amendment 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 amendment to the Executive Director, Fish and Boat Commission, P. O. Box 67000, Harrisburg, PA 17106-7000, within 30 days after publication of this notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Comments submitted by facsimile will not be accepted.

   Comments also may be submitted electronically at A subject heading of the proposal and a return name and address must be included in each transmission. In addition, all electronic comments must be contained in the text of the transmission, not in an attachment. If an acknowledgment of electronic comments is not received by the sender within 2-working days, the comments should be retransmitted to ensure receipt.

Executive Director

   Fiscal Note:  48A-126. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.

Annex A



Subpart B.  FISHING



§ 69.12.  Seasons, sizes and creel limits--Lake Erie.

*      *      *      *      *

   (d)  The following seasons, sizes and creel limits apply to Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay, including peninsular waters:

*      *      *      *      *
YELLOW PERCH Open year-round [8] 7 inches 20
*      *      *      *      *

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 02-522. Filed for public inspection April 5, 2002, 9:00 a.m.]

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