Part 40 - Black Sea Bass- Regulatory Impact Statement - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation

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Part 40 - Black Sea Bass- 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 statutes that DEC manages marine fisheries to optimize resource use for 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 to bring New York State's recreational black sea bass regulations into compliance with requirements of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). The ASMFC approved Addendum XXX to the Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan on February 8, 2018. New York worked with ASMFC to avoid the potential 12 percent reduction in the addendum since regulations in New York are already highly restrictive, the black sea bass population is healthy, and the recreational community has objected to a reduction of any magnitude. The regulations included in this proposal were developed as an alternative, and include a 2 percent increase to black sea bass harvest through an earlier season opening date, and a maximum possession limit of 7 fish established by Addendum XXX during the fall.

DEC is adopting these changes in order to protect the general welfare by complying with the ASMFC requirements, while implementing a small liberalization for an important recreational fishery. Current black sea bass regulations are not in compliance with ASMFC Addendum XXX requirements. Under the provisions of the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act, the ASMFC determines if states have implemented the requirements of the Black Sea bass fishery management plan. If ASMFC determines that New York is non-compliant, it will report such non-compliance to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. The Secretary could then promulgate and enforce a complete closure of New York's black sea bass fishery if he concurs with ASMFC's non-compliance determination.

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 related to notifying recreational fishers, party and charter boat operators, and other recreational fishing associated businesses of the new rules.

5. Local government mandates:

The proposed 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:

New York State marine recreational fishers had an opportunity to comment upon Addendum XXX to the Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan at an ASMFC public hearing on January 11, 2018 and again during a DEC public meeting on March 27, 2018. Alternative management measures, which included various combinations of potential reductions, possession limits, size limits, and seasons, were presented. The recreational community universally communicated that they do not support any reductions to the recreational black sea bass fishery, citing the health of black sea bass populations and the inequity with regulations in Connecticut and New Jersey. Following this feedback, New York successfully negotiated with ASMFC for an alternative management strategy that did not entail any reductions to harvest.

"No action" alternative: If New York were to not adopt regulations that reduced the maximum possession limit for black sea bass recreational fishing in 2018, the State would be out of compliance with ASMFC requirements, which could result in federal action to close New York's black sea bass fishery. In addition, New York recreational fishers and related industries would be denied the benefit of an earlier season opening.

9. Federal standards:

The amendments to Part 40 are in compliance with the ASMFC and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plans.

10. Compliance schedule:

These regulations are being adopted by emergency rule making 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.

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