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Part 40 Marine Fish - Recreational Black Sea Bass - Regulatory Impact Statement

Regulatory Impact Statement

1. Statutory authority:

Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) sections 11-0303, 13-0105, and 13-0340-f authorize the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC or the department) to establish by regulation the open season, size, catch limits, possession and sale restrictions and manner of taking for black sea bass.

2. Legislative objectives:

It is the objective of the above-cited legislation that DEC manages marine fisheries to optimize resource use for commercial and recreational harvesters in a manner that is consistent with marine fisheries conservation and management policies and interstate fishery management plans.

3. Needs and benefits:

This rule making is necessary for New York to remain in compliance with the National Marine Fisheries Service's (NMFS) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) required limits for the coast-wide recreational harvest of black sea bass. NMFS set the 2016 coast-wide recreational harvest limit (RHL) for black sea bass at 2.82 million pounds in October of 2015. In mid-February 2016, harvest estimates for the entire 2015 fishing year became available. Based upon coast-wide fishery performance, ASMFC then determined that each northern member state (Massachusetts through New Jersey) must reduce recreational black sea bass harvest by 23% in order to not exceed the 2016 RHL. Once all data was available and the required reduction known, DEC Division of Marine Resources (DMR) developed several regulatory options that would result in the required reduction. DEC made these options available to the public for review and consulted with members of New York's fishing public for feedback. This rulemaking contains the option that DEC has selected in an effort to provide New York's anglers with appropriate and equitable access to this popular recreational fishery.

DEC is adopting these changes by emergency rule making in order to protect the general welfare. The regulations currently in place for recreational harvest of black sea bass were developed for the previous fishing year, are not restrictive enough for the current fishing year. Current black sea bass regulations do not satisfy the latest reduction mandated by the ASMFC, and leaving them unchanged would likely result in the over-harvest of black sea bass by New York anglers. Falling out of compliance with the ASMFC requirements could result in federal sanctions and closure of the black sea bass fishery. In addition, the normal rulemaking process would not promulgate these regulations in time for the proposed season opening on June 27. This would result in the loss of fishing days and unnecessarily disadvantage New York's anglers and associated businesses.

The proposed regulations are intended to reduce recreational black sea bass harvest by increasing the size limit and reducing the possession limit. However, the amendment will increase the open season by 19 days which will provide some relief to New York State recreational anglers.

4. Costs:

There are no new costs to state and local governments from this action. The department will incur limited costs associated with both the implementation and administration of these rules, including the costs relating to notifying recreational harvesters, party and charter boat operators and other recreational fishing associated businesses of the new rules.

5. Local government mandates:

The emergency rule does not impose any mandates on local government.

6. Paperwork:

None.

7. Duplication:

The amendment does not duplicate any state or federal requirement.

8. Alternatives:

The management measures proposed in this rulemaking were developed by DMR staff working with a group of anglers and recreational fishing industry members. Twelve options were developed through the manipulation of minimum size limits, possession limits, and length of fishing seasons to achieve the required harvest reduction. These options were made publicly available through the Marine Resource Advisory Council (MRAC) website. They were also available on several local fishing websites. After consulting with the public, DEC is moving to adopt regulations that provide New York's anglers with appropriate and equitable access to this popular recreational fishery.

"No action" alternative: If New York were to not adopt regulations that reduced recreational black sea bass harvest in 2016, the State would be out of compliance with ASMFC and NMFS requirements and subject to federal sanctions.

9. Federal standards:

The amendments to Part 40 are in compliance with the ASMFC and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council fishery management plan for black sea bass.

10. Compliance schedule:

These regulations are being adopted by emergency rulemaking and therefore will take effect immediately upon filing with Department of State. Regulated parties must comply immediately and will be notified of the changes to the regulations through appropriate news releases, by mail, and through DEC's website.