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Part 40, Section 13-0303 and 13-0340-f - Management of Black Sea Bass - Regulatory Impact Statement

Regulatory Impact Statement

1. Statutory authority:

Environmental Conservation law (ECL) section 13-0340-f authorizes the Department of Environmental Conservation to adopt regulations for the management of black sea bass, including catch and possession limits.

2. Legislative objectives:

The above-cited legislation requires that DEC manage marine fisheries in such a way as to: (i) protect these natural resources for their intrinsic value to the marine ecosystem; (ii) optimize resource use for commercial and recreational fishermen through the implementation of sound management practices; (iii) protect public safety and (iv) comply with federal marine fisheries conservation and management policies and interstate fishery management plans.

3. Needs and benefits:

This rule making is proposed at the request of New York's commercial marine fishery industry. It is intended to maximize black sea bass commercial marine fishing opportunities while improving safety and fuel efficiency. Implementation of the proposed amendments will provide an economic benefit from decreased fuel and maintenance costs. The proposed amendments will remain in compliance with the Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) adopted by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). Failure to adopt these regulatory amendments will result in the continued practice of commercial black sea bass fishermen working individually on separate vessels to harvest their trip limits under the current regulatory definition, placing them at a higher risk of injury or death.

4. Costs:

The proposed rule does not impose any costs to the department, local municipalities, or the regulated public. In fact, commercial black sea bass fishers are likely to receive an economic benefit from reduced fuel and maintenance costs.

5. Local government mandates:

The proposed rule does not impose any mandates on local governments.

6. Paperwork:


7. Duplication:

The proposed amendment does not duplicate any state or federal requirement.

8. Alternatives:

Alternative 1: "No action" alternative.Under this alternative New York State would not amend 6 NYCRR Section 40.1 Marine Fish. This alternative is more protective of the affected fishery stocks by strictly limiting the amount of fish that can be possessed on board or landed by a vessel to one trip limit during a single fishing trip. However, this alternative was rejected because it fails to mitigate the safety concerns raised by the affected commercial fishers.

Alternative 2: No limit on the number of commercial fishers.Under this alternative New York State would amend 6 NYCRR Section 40.1 Marine Fish but not limit the number of commercially licensed fishers who could possess or land the authorized trip limit on one vessel during a single fishing trip. This alternative would mitigate the safety concern of a single commercial fisher on board one vessel. However, this alternative was rejected because it would be likely to result in an uncontrolled increase in the commercial landings of the affected species and would greatly reduce the effectiveness of the trip limit as a management tool. Although commercial black sea bass landings are closely monitored, there is a delay between actual and reported landings. The substantial increase in black sea bass landings that would be expected under this alternative would prohibit effective management of the species and would likely result in quota exceedances and fishery closures.

Alternate 3: Apply change to all commercial marine fisheries.Under this alternative New York State would amend 6 NYCRR Section 40.1 Marine Fish but not limit the exception to fisheries specifically authorized by the department pursuant to 40.1(i). As a result, two licensed fishers could possess or land the authorized trip limit for any regulated finfish species on one vessel during a single fishing trip. This alternative was rejected because there are some regulated species where the status of the stock (e.g., overfished or experiencing overfishing) warrants a more protective approach to trip limits. Some species are also more difficult to monitor for commercial landings since a large portion of the harvest is kept for bait or sold privately. For these species, allowable commercial catch limits are more likely to be exceeded, resulting in fishery closures. In other fisheries, trip limits are relatively high and exceed the capacity of smaller vessels. In these fisheries, the change would only benefit larger vessels where the safety issue for a single fisher is not a factor.

9. Federal standards:

The proposed amendments to 6 NYCRR 40.1 are in compliance with the ASMFC and Regional Fishery Management Council FMPs for black sea bass.

10. Compliance schedule:

Regulated parties will be notified by mail, through appropriate news releases and via DEC's website of the changes to the regulations. The proposed regulations will take effect upon filing with the Department of State after the 45-day public comment period.

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