|Erie, PA – At its quarterly business meeting held here today, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) amended various boating regulations and voted to close the lower sections of the Susquehanna and Juniata rivers to bass fishing during the spawning period from May 1 to mid-June. The two-day meeting, held at the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel, began with committee meetings on Monday and concluded this afternoon with the official business session.
As part of the regulation changes approved today, boaters will be required, beginning Nov. 1, 2012, to wear life jackets on boats less than 16 feet in length and on canoes and kayaks during the cold weather months from Nov. 1 through April 30. The change is intended to protect boaters from the dangers of coldwater shock if they fall into the water.
“While boating accidents are more frequent during the traditional summer season, the risk of an accident being fatal is significantly higher when the air and water temperatures are colder in late fall through spring,” said Laurel Anders, director of the Bureau of Boating and Access. “Over the last 15 years, cold-water incidents represented only eight percent of boating-related accidents, but resulted in 24 percent of the fatalities.”
“The disproportionate number of fatalities is primarily due to the effects of coldwater immersion,” she added. “Victims who are wearing a life jacket when exposed to cold water have potentially life-saving advantages.”
Commissioners also removed the no-wake designations from Hawns Run Cove and Anderson Bay on Raystown Lake, Huntingdon County, and placed an “electric motors only” restriction on the area of Lake Wilhelm in Mercer County which runs through State Game Lands 270.
In other action, Commissioners voted to:
- Sell a one-half acre, PFBC-owned property at Chapman Lake in Lackawanna County.
- Close the lower sections of the Susquehanna River (below Sunbury) and Juniata River (below Port Royal) to bass fishing and tournaments from May 1 to mid-June to reduce angling-related stress during the spawning period; and to extend the current catch and release requirements and the closed season into the rivers’ tributaries to points one-half river-mile upstream from the confluence. The amendments will take effect on Jan. 1, 2012.
- Enter into a non-surface use oil and gas cooperative agreement with Williams Production Appalachia for the development of oil and natural gas at the Commission’s Donegal Lake property in Donegal Township, Westmoreland County.
- Publish for public comment a proposal to re-establish the fishery in Opossum Lake in Cumberland County. The lake’s dam and spillway are being rebuilt and the lake is expected to begin refilling in spring 2012. Under the proposal, the warm-water fishery would be established through fingerling stockings of select species, including but not limited to largemouth bass, muskellunge, crappie and bluegill. Once the lake refills, anglers would be able to fish under catch and release regulations. Adult trout stockings would be suspended until 2014, giving the warm-water fisheries time to become established. The regulations would remain in place until June 18, 2016.
Before the start of today’s business meeting, Executive Director John Arway and Board President Robert Bachman, Ph.D., recognized several employees for their efforts on various projects.
The PFBC Outstanding Service Award was presented to Joseph Egnot, Allen Hall, Robert Johnson, Jack Kuntz and Fred Litzel for their Area 1 maintenance team restoration and rehabilitation of the courtesy docks at the Walnut Creek Marina in Fairview, Erie County. The team’s efforts resulted in a considerable cost savings and produced a quality dock that exceeded the construction standards of commercially available new docks.
Three employees of the PFBC Lake Habitat Section – Ben Page, Mike Swartz and Phil Thomas – received the 2011 Soisson Public Recreation Achievement Award in recognition for having a positive impact concerning safe public recreation opportunities. The award was given by the Cambria County Conservation District.
The Cambria County Conservation District also presented its 2011 Watershed Protection Award to Karl Lutz, Mark Sausser, Keith Beamer and Jon Thomas of the Stream Habitat Section. The award recognizes individuals or organizations who have promoted the protection of a particular watershed through a coordinated land and water resource approach.
A complete copy of the meeting schedule and the full agenda for the meeting can be found on the Commission’s web site at www.fishandboat.com/minutes.htm.
Anglers and boaters can sign up to receive email updates on the activities of the Fish and Boat Commission at http://www.fishandboat.com/newsreleases/edelivery.htm. The PFBC is also using today’s popular social media. Individuals can stay in touch by following the Commission on Twitter at www.twitter.com/fishandboat and through RSS feeds at http://fishandboat.com/rss/index.htm.