|ERIE, Pa. (Oct. 1) – At its quarterly business meeting held today at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) unveiled plans to expand its popular Mentored Youth Fishing Day program across the state in 2014.
Launched this past spring as a pilot program on the Saturday preceding the regional opening day of trout season, Mentored Youth Fishing Day was an immediate hit with adult anglers and the kids in their lives. More than 3,700 adult anglers registered 5,110 kids for the fishing opportunity.
“This new program turned out to be very popular with anglers and their friends and family,” said PFBC Executive Director John Arway. “We had a great turnout at every location and we received a lot of thanks from participants, who said they were happy to have a special day to fish with their children in advance of the opening day. We expect the same level of enthusiasm and turnout when we expand it statewide this spring.”
For the 2014 fishing season, the first Mentored Youth Fishing Day will be held on approximately a dozen waters on March 22, the Saturday before the regional opening day of trout season in 18 southcentral and southeast counties. The second one will be held on approximately two dozen waters on April 5, the weekend before the traditional statewide opening day of trout season.
“We are still finalizing the exact number of waters and will publicly announce the list in December before the holiday season, sort of our gift to anglers,” added Arway.
A follow-up survey of participants found that 89 percent of the registered youth fished that day; a majority of mentors were family members; and more than 80 percent of the mentors said they were satisfied with the experience. All total, the kids and their mentors fished 7,727 hours and reported releasing 4,405 trout and harvesting 1,183. Nearly 80 percent of the mentors said they usually fish the opening day of trout season. However, more than one-third of respondents said that they do not typically take youth out on opening day.
In other action today, Commissioners:
- Adopted a change in its boating regulations intended to provide additional safety to passengers when a motorboat is operating at greater than slow, no-wake speeds. In these instances, the regulation prohibits individuals from riding outside the passenger carrying area or from riding on bow decking, gunwales, transoms or motor covers. The amendment becomes effective Jan. 1, 2014.
“Waterways conservation officers are regularly called to assist with incidents where an individual was standing or sitting on the bow or transom and were thrown into the water when the boat hit an unexpected wake or made a sudden turn,” said Corey Britcher, PFBC Director of Law Enforcement. “It is simply unsafe to be at these spots when a boat is underway.”
- Approved a notice of proposed rulemaking which restricts the sale, introduction, and transportation of all live crayfish in Pennsylvania. As part of the proposal, licensed anglers would be permitted to harvest up to 50 crayfish per day for fishing and consumption as long as the heads are removed behind the eyes upon capture.“The replacement of native crayfish by introduced crayfish – like the invasive rusty crayfish – represents a significant threat to aquatic communities,” said Dave Lieb, PFBC Invertebrate Zoologist and Non-Game Biologist. “Exotic crayfish populations grow quickly and have negative effects on amphibians, mussels and fishes. Stringent regulations will help prevent additional introductions of invasive crayfish.”
- Approved a Non-Surface Use Oil and Gas Cooperative Agreement with Abarta Oil and Gas Company for the development of oil and natural gas at the PFBC’s Hereford Manor property in Franklin Township, Beaver County. Abarta has offered the PFBC a three-year primary term, a $3,000 per acre up-front bonus payment of $1.34 million and a royalty rate of 18 percent. The bonus payment and all royalties will be deposited into the Fish Fund where they will be used to fund efforts to revitalize and repair Commonwealth-owned high-hazard dams managed by the PFBC.
- Approved a final rulemaking to reduce creel limits for American Shad from six to three on the 2.9-mile section of the Delaware River from the Commodore Barry Bridge to the Delaware state line. The changes make the Commonwealth regulations consistent with New Jersey regulations. The three-fish creel limit is already in effect on the Delaware River upstream of the Commodore Barry Bridge. The change goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.
- Raised the size limit on tautog imported into Pennsylvania from 14-inch minimum to a 15-inch minimum. The change makes the state regulations consistent with those in New Jersey, which were recently changed.
- Proposed a change to the stocking policy for Class A wild trout which would permit stocking to continue on certain Class A waters that meet specific conditions. Currently, stocking is prohibited on all Class A waters, which represent the best of the naturally reproducing trout fisheries. The PFBC has identified nine waters which meet Class A standards, but are currently stocked and receive heavy angler use.
The proposed policy amendment would allow stream sections which are designated as Class A after 2013 to remain eligible for fingerling stocking or preseason-only stocking of adult trout by the PFBC or cooperative nurseries as long as certain conditions are met. The stream section must have been stocked during the year immediately prior to its Class A designation, and angler use in the stream section must equal or exceed the 75th percentile, statewide, of angler use for the opening weekend of trout season as documented by PFBC staff.
The PFBC is soliciting public comment on the proposal for 90 days. If adopted, the amended statement of policy would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.
- Approved a notice of proposed rulemaking to increase the minimum size limit of American Eel to nine inches and to decrease the creel limit from 50 to 25. The action implements recommendations from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Committee (ASMFC), which concluded that the American eel population is depleted in U.S. waters and that the spawning stock needed more protection. The PFBC is a member of ASMFC.
- Added to the list of wild trout streams one new water in Somerset County. The list can be found on the PFBC website.
- Added to the list of Class A wild trout streams four water in Centre, Jefferson and Somerset counties. The list can be found on the PFBC website.
- Approved a final rulemaking to move the Eastern Spadefoot toad from the Endangered Species list to the Threatened Species list.
- Approved a federal pass-through grant of $374,016 to the Regional Science Consortium in Erie to conduct a comprehensive barrier assessment and prioritization of barriers for removal in Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie tributaries. In the Great Lakes, barrier removal or modification can impact not only the movement of sport fish, such as steelhead, but also aquatic invasive species, like sea lamprey and round goby. The funding comes from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
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. For more information about fishing and boating in Pennsylvania, please visit our website at www.fishandboat.com.
Eric Levis, Press Secretary