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Part 44 - Jonah Crab - Regulatory Impact Statement

Regulatory Impact Statement

1. Statutory authority:

Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) 13-0331(7) gives DEC the authority to adopt regulations for crabs. These include size limits, restrictions on the manner of taking and landing, requirements relating to transportation, possession and sale, and requirements for permits and eligibility therefor. Such regulations must be consistent with the compliance requirements of applicable FMPs adopted by Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission (ASMFC).

2. Legislative objectives:

It is the objective of the above-cited legislation that DEC manages marine fisheries in such a way as to protect the natural resources for its intrinsic value to the marine ecosystem and to optimize resource use for commercial and recreational harvesters. The ECL stipulates that management and use of State fish and wildlife resources must be consistent with marine fisheries conservation and management policies and interstate fishery management plans.

3. Needs and benefits:

The Jonah crab, Cancer borealis, is primarily harvested as a bycatch in lobster traps on the East Coast. The decrease in Southern New England lobster populations has led many commercial fishermen to move to other fisheries. Jonah crab is one of these fisheries, and there have been dramatic increases in landings in the past five years. In August 2015, ASMFC adopted a fishery management plan (FMP) for Jonah crab. In order to comply with that FMP, New York and other member states are required to implement a series of management measures for Jonah crab. These management measures are intended to reduce the possibility of overfishing of the Jonah crab stock, while preserving the current utilization of the resource by the fishing industry.

Pursuant to ECL § 13-0371, New York State is a party to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Compact which established ASMFC. The Commission facilitates cooperative management of marine, shell, and anadromous fish species among the fifteen member states. The principal mechanism for implementation of cooperative management of migratory fish is ASMFC's Interstate FMPs for individual species or groups of fish. The FMPs are designed to promote the long-term health of these species, preserve resources, and protect the interests of both commercial and recreational fishermen.

Under the provisions of the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act (ACFCMA), ASMFC determines if states have implemented, in a timely manner, provisions of FMPs with which they are required to comply. If ASMFC determines that a state is non-compliant with an FMP, it so notifies the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. If the Secretary concurs in the non-compliance determination, the Secretary promulgates and enforces a complete prohibition on all fishing for the subject species in the waters of the non-compliant state until the state comes into compliance with the FMP.

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 permit holders of the new rules.

5. Local government mandates:

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

6. Paperwork:

The proposed rule making will not impose any new paperwork requirements for the permit holders.

7. Duplication:

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

8. Alternatives:

No action: Failure to adopt these regulations could lead to a determination by ASMFC that New York is out of compliance. This could lead to a federal closure of New York's Jonah crab fishery. If the fishery were to close, this would cause significant hardship on New York fishermen. The estimated dollar value of New York's commercial Jonah crab harvest was approximately $133,182 in 2016, which is the last year of estimated value data.

9. Federal standards:

The amendments to Part 44 are in compliance with the ASMFC Fishery Management Plan for Jonah Crab.

10. Compliance schedule:

Compliance with the proposed regulation is required upon the effective date of the rule. Permit holders will be notified of the changes to the regulations through appropriate news releases, by mail, and through DEC's website.

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