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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 02-523


[58 PA. CODE CHS. 53, 61 AND 65]

Use Permits for Unpowered Boats; Fishing in the Susquehanna River and Its Tributaries; Special Fishing Regulations

[32 Pa.B. 1729]

   The Fish and Boat Commission (Commission) proposes to amend Chapters 53, 61 and 65 (relating to Commission property; seasons, sizes and creel limits; and special fishing regulations). The Commission is publishing these amendments as a notice of proposed rulemaking under the authority of 30 Pa.C.S. (relating to the Fish and Boat Code) (code). The proposed amendments relate to Commission property and fishing.

A.  Effective Date

   The proposed amendments, if approved on final-form rulemaking, will go into effect upon publication of an order adopting the amendments in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

B.  Contact Person

   For further information on the proposed amendments, 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 § 53.27 (relating to use permits for unpowered boats) is published under the statutory authority of section 742(e) of the code (relating to use of property). The proposed amendment to § 61.7 (relating to Susquehanna River and tributaries) is published under the statutory authority of section 2102 of the code (relating to rules and regulations). The proposed amendment to § 65.24 (relating to miscellaneous special regulations) is published under the statutory authority of section 2307 of the code (waters limited to specific purposes).

D.  Purpose and Background

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

E.  Summary of Proposal

   (1)  Section 53.27. It has come to Commission staff's attention that the current wording of § 53.27(b), requiring use permit decals to be displayed above the waterline on both sides of the bow of the boat, creates a conflict with §  93.5(c) (relating to display of registration number and validation decal). Section 93.5(c) provides that no number other than the registration number may be displayed on either side of the bow of the vessel. Accordingly, the Commission proposes to amend this section to read as set forth in Annex A.

   (2)  Section 61.7. The Commission recently discovered an error in this section. To correct the error, the Commission proposes to amend the section to read as set forth in Annex A.

   (3)  Section 65.24. Dunkard Creek is a low gradient warmwater stream that flows through the rural setting of southern Greene County. The fish populations of Dunkard Creek have been sampled extensively dating back to 1976. The dominant gamefish sampled through the years has been smallmouth bass. Dunkard Creek has been documented over the years as one of the highest density smallmouth bass populations in a warmwater stream in Southwest Pennsylvania. Analysis of the smallmouth bass data through 1990 indicated that angler harvest was a major factor in reducing the quality of the bass population. Additionally, results of a 1990 Statewide Smallmouth Bass Angler Opinion Survey suggested that anglers were very interested in quality smallmouth bass fishing through use of more restrictive length limits. These reasons combined to provide the impetus to implement and study a Catch and Release regulation for black bass on a portion of Dunkard Creek effective in 1995 to improve the overall quality of the smallmouth bass fishery.

   Two sampling sites were used in this evaluation, one in the catch and release section and one in the Statewide regulation section. The Dunkard Creek smallmouth bass population abundance, biomass, growth and year class strength demonstrated a similar declining trend from 1984 to 2000 at both sites. The number of smallmouth bass over 12 inches at both sites declined by about 60% for the years 1995 to 2000, compared to the 1984 to 2000 mean. This occurred even though both sites had more restrictive regulations applied over the evaluation period of 1984 to 2000. One site went from a minimum length limit of 10 to 12 inches and from a year-round season to a closed season in the spring, while the other site went to catch and release. The more restrictive harvest regulations should have led to an increase in abundance of smallmouth bass over 12 inches at both sites. Smallmouth bass growth data showed that older bass (ages 5 and 6) had a slower growth rate over time, even though abundance had been reduced. Rock bass populations also declined at both sites over the study period.

   The declining smallmouth bass and rock bass population evidence combined pointed to habitat or water quality deterioration as possible factors. Water quality was not considered a major contributor, but erosion and sedimentation in the watershed as reported in a study by the Greene County Conservation District was identified as a probable cause of the fish population declines. This documentation should serve as emphasis to heighten this awareness and take steps toward reducing and eliminating this pollution problem. Livestock farming operations and dirt and gravel roads were considered the major sediment producing sources in the upper watershed. Other sediment sources include mining and logging areas, runoff from waste sites, haul roads and construction sites.

   The Dunkard Creek long-term data set allowed staff to document that the catch and release regulations for bass did not meet their objective of improving the quality of the bass population. However, this data set also allowed staff to discover the chronic effects of erosion and sedimentation on smallmouth bass and rock bass populations in the Dunkard Creek watershed. Conservation groups will now be directed to alleviate this pollution and ultimately return the quality component of the smallmouth bass population to its former state.

   Accordingly, the Commission proposes that § 65.24 be amended to remove the miscellaneous special regulations on Dunkard Creek.

F.  Paperwork

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

G.  Fiscal Impact

   The proposed amendments will have no adverse fiscal impact on the Commonwealth or its political subdivisions. The proposed amendments 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 amendments 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-125. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.

Annex A





§ 53.27.  Use permits for unpowered boats.

*      *      *      *      *

   (b)  Use permits will be issued in the form of decals, showing the expiration date. [Decals shall be displayed above the waterline on both sides of the bow of the boat for which the permit is issued.] Decals shall be clearly displayed on both sides of the boat at the mid ship just below the gunwale. For low-volume boats, such as kayaks, decals shall be placed on both sides of the deck at the mid ship.

*      *      *      *      *

Subpart B.  FISHING


§ 61.7.  Susquehanna River and tributaries.

*      *      *      *      *

   (d)  The following seasons, sizes and creel limits apply to the Susquehanna River and its tributaries, including the Juniata River, the West Branch, ''North Branch'' and other tributaries [with] within the Susquehanna River Basin except the Conowingo Reservoir--see § 61.4 (relating to Conowingo Reservoir) and except for waters subject to special regulations (see Chapter 65 (relating to special fishing regulations)):

*      *      *      *      *

January 1 to first Saturday after April 11 and first Saturday after June 11 to December 31. Susquehanna River--Holtwood Dam to Fibradam in Sunbury 15 inches* * 4 (Combined species)* *
January 1 to first Saturday after April 11 and first Saturday after June 11 to December 31. Susquehanna River--Upstream of Fibradam in Sunbury 12 inches 6 (Combined species)
January 1 to first Saturday after April 11 and first Saturday after June 11 to December 31. Juniata River--Mouth upstream to Route 11/15 bridge near Amity Hall; and 18.5 mile section from the S.R. 0075 bridge at Port Royal downstream to Newport S.R. 0034 Bridge 15 inches* * 4 (Combined species)* *
January 1 to first Saturday after April 11 and first Saturday after June 11 to December 31. Juniata River--All areas except as described in this subsection: 12 inches 6 (Combined species)]
Inland seasons, sizes and creel limits apply except for waters under special regulations (See Chapter 65). See § 61.1 (relating to Commonwealth inland waters). For Conowingo Reservoir, see § 61.4 (relating to Conowingo Reservoir).
*      *      *      *      *

      [**Note:  Big Bass regulations--minimum size and creel limits--apply (see § 65.9)]


§ 65.24.  Miscellaneous special regulations.

   The following waters are subject to the following miscellaneous special regulations:

County Name of Water Special Regulations
*      *      *      *      *

[Greene Dunkard Creek The daily creel limit for smallmouth bass is zero in an area from the confluence of Shannon Run at the ford on T-339 downstream to the bridge on SR 2009, a distance of 4.2 miles. Smallmouth bass may not be killed or had in possession in this special regulation area.]
*      *      *      *      *

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 02-523. Filed for public inspection April 5, 2002, 9:00 a.m.]

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