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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Emergency Catch & Release Regulations on the Susquehanna and Juniata Rivers for Smallmouth Bass

The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) has placed catch & release regulations on the Juniata River and lower Susquehanna River.  At the October Fish and Boat Commission meeting the Commissioners voted to publish a proposed rulemaking. PFBC Executive Director John Arway signed a temporary emergency order which allows the changes to take affect Jan. 1, 2011.

The proposed changes will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin as a notice of proposed rulemaking. Public comments will be accepted for 90 days after the official publication. After reviewing the public comments, the Commission is expected to consider adoption of the changes at its April quarterly meeting.

“Reduced densities of smallmouth bass are likely to continue until reproduction and recruitment success improves,” said Mr. Arway. “In order to preserve good quality fishing and to protect the current population, we determined that it is necessary to place catch and release restrictions on those portions of the rivers.”
32 miles of the Juniata River will come under the new regulations beginning at the Route 75 bridge in Port Royal, PA downstream to the mouth of the river in Duncannon. The Susquehanna River gets 98 miles of new catch & release regulations from the inflatable dam near Sunbury downstream to the Holtwood Dam in York County.

Beginning in 2005, the PFBC has documented that low water flows and relatively warm water temperatures have been associated with high incidences of Columnaris bacterial disease in young-of-year bass. At the same time,  relatively low dissolved oxygen levels in critically important near-shore nursery areas are occurring.

“We continue to work in partnership with other state and federal agencies to identify the causes of low recruitment and disease,” said Mr. Arway. He added that the issues are a challenge that coveer a broad spectrum of scientists from state and federal resource management agencies.