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Part 40 Marine Fish - Commercial Tautog Tagging - Regulatory Impact Statement

1. Statutory authority:

Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) § 13-0105 directs that it shall be "the policy of the state that the primary principle in managing the state's marine fishery resource is to maintain the long-term health and abundance of marine fisheries resources and their habitats, and to ensure that [fisheries] are sustained in usable abundance and diversity for future generations." The legislature further directed that "the management of the state's transboundary and migratory species shall be consistent with [all] interjurisdictional management plans, interstate or state-federal."

ECL § 13-0340-d authorizes DEC to adopt regulations governing tautog including: size limits, catch limits and possession limits, open and closed seasons, and/or other relevant management measures.

2. Legislative objectives:

It is the objective of the above-cited legislation that DEC manages marine fisheries to optimize resource use for commercial harvesters in a manner that is consistent with federal marine fisheries conservation and management policies including all applicable interstate fishery management plans. These amendments will ensure that New York maintains compliance and consistency with requirements of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Tautog.

3. Needs and benefits:

This rule making must be adopted on an emergency basis for the preservation of the general welfare by ensuring that New York State maintains compliance with the requirements of ASMFC's FMP for Tautog. Failure to maintain compliance with ASMFC's FMP for Tautog may result in the federal closure of New York State's tautog fishery. This emergency rule will also help prevent the illegal harvest and sale of tautog.

Tautog in New York State regional waters are overfished and experiencing overfishing based on the last stock assessment conducted by ASMFC in 2016. This amendment will require that all commercially harvested tautog are tagged with a single-use serialized tag. Any tautog without a commercial tag will not be able to be offered for sale, barter, or trade. These requirements will address overfishing by minimizing the coast-wide illegal and unreported catch of tautog which ASMFC has identified as a critical measure for reducing tautog overharvest.

4. Costs:

DEC intends to assume all costs associated with the implementation of the program for the first two years as part of a pilot program, including the costs of the tags themselves which must be purchased in bulk from ASMFC prior to each tagging year. DEC estimates the cost of tags to be approximately $40,000 a year. DEC will also incur costs associated with mailing program materials to commercial harvesters, including an explanation of the tag ordering process. DEC will also disburse tag applicators during the initial tagging season at an estimated total cost of $7,500.

DEC will operate the tagging program in pilot status for the first two years, after which DEC will evaluate the needs and benefits of sharing program costs with commercial license holders through the sale of tags. Tags are made from a proprietary blend of metals, and the cost each year will fluctuate based on commodity pricing. The cost of tags is not expected to negatively impact commercial harvesters as the cost of tags at 35 cents per tag represents less than two percent of the price commercial harvesters currently receive for live tautog in wholesale markets.

The tagging program is intended to minimize illegal and unreported catch of tautog which will help stabilize market prices. Stable market prices will benefit individuals in the tautog fishery by providing a consistent source of income.

5. Local government mandates:

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

6. Paperwork:

None.

7. Duplication:

The amendment does not duplicate any state or federal requirement.

8. Alternatives:

"No action" alternative - This option would leave in place current tautog regulations and would not implement a commercial tagging requirement. This option was rejected because failure to adopt the regulations to implement a commercial tautog tagging program will place New York State out of "No action" alternative - This option would leave in place current tautog regulations and would not implement a commercial tagging requirement. This option was rejected because failure to adopt the regulations to implement a commercial tautog tagging program will place New York State out of compliance with ASMFC's FMP for Tautog which may result in the federal closure of New York State's tautog fishery.

9. Federal standards:

The amendments are in compliance with federal standards. 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 will be notified of the changes to the regulations through publication in the State Register, appropriate news releases, and through DEC's website.

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