|Harrisburg, PA — During its fall quarterly meeting on Tuesday,
the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) voted to pursue three properties in Erie
order to enhance public fishing opportunities and approved final regulations aimed at slowing the spread
of an infectious disease found in a variety of fish.
The Commission voted to allow staff to pursue the
acquisition of public fishing easements on three properties along Elk Creek in Erie County. Once the
easements are acquired, they will provide access to 8,700 linear feet or 1.65 miles of stream along
Elk Creek. Property acquisitions or easements typically take six to twelve months to finalize after
formal Commission action.
Properties or easements in Erie are purchased through the proceeds from the
sale of the Lake Erie permits and from $6 of the fees collected from the combination trout-salmon/Lake
Erie permits. The funds are deposited into a restricted account and are used to provide public fishing
access on or at Lake Erie and the tributaries to Lake Erie.
The Commission also adopted final regulations
and amendments, effective Jan. 1, 2009, dealing with Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia
(VHS), an infectious
disease affecting fish in Lake Erie and many other lakes in the Great Lakes watershed. The disease can
be spread to other waterways through live baitfish, fresh fish eggs, live fish, bilge and bait bucket
water and uncleaned fishing gear or boats.
The new regulations and amendments address the sale, introduction
and transportation of VHS-susceptible species of fish, dead or alive, and their parts. They do not address
eggs. Specifically, the new regulations and amendments make it illegal to sell, possess and use as
bait or otherwise introduce VHS-susceptible species of fish taken from the Lake Erie watershed in other watersheds
of the Commonwealth, unless the fish are from a group of fish or from a propagation facility that has been as certified
as having tested negative for VHS in accordance with tests adopted by the Pennsylvania Department
of Agriculture and approved by the PFBC. Under current regulations, it is already illegal to transport these fish
unless certain conditions are met.
The new regulations and amendments also make it illegal to sell and introduce VHS-susceptible
species of fish into Pennsylvania from a VHS-affected or VHS-at risk state unless the fish are from
a group of fish or from a propagation facility that has been certified as VHS-negative. There are
similar restrictions on the transportation of these fish. In addition, these fish may be transported
into the Commonwealth if they are dead, recreationally caught fish that are being transported solely for human consumption.
addition, the Commission adopted two new regulations dealing with eggs. The first makes it illegal
to strip or remove eggs from fish taken from waters of this Commonwealth except for trout and salmon
taken from the Lake Erie watershed. The second makes it unlawful to possess or use as bait unpreserved, refrigerated
or frozen fish eggs regardless of their origin while fishing in or along the waters of the Commonwealth, except that
unpreserved, refrigerated or frozen fish eggs from trout or salmon may be used in the Lake Erie watershed.
action, the Commission approved the publication of a notice of proposed rulemaking adding the salamander,
rabbitsfoot, and snuffbox mussels to Pennsylvania’s
endangered species list and the sheepnose and rayed bean mussels to the threatened species list. All
of these species are at risk of extinction and require varying levels of elevated attention to reverse
their declining populations.
The complete agenda, with additional background information on these items,
can be found on the Commission’s
web site at www.fishandboat.com under About the PFBC/Agenda and Minutes. The mission
of the Fish and Boat Commission is to protect, conserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s aquatic resources and
provide fishing and boating opportunities. For more information about fishing and boating in Pennsylvania, please
visit our website at www.fishandboat.com.