Science-Based Plan with Angler Input will Improve Management of Wild and Stocked Trout
Draft Regulations Proposed to Implement Key Plan Provisions Including Year-Round Catch-and-Release Season and Revising Regulations to Make Them Easier to Understand
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today released the State's final Trout Stream Management Plan that will improve the management of trout streams across the state. The final plan is the product of extensive public engagement and sound science that embraces simplicity, encourages angler participation, and recognizes the value of managing trout streams for self-sustaining populations of wild trout. In addition, to support the implementation of the Trout Stream Management Plan, today DEC issued proposed regulations that are available for public comment until Jan. 25, 2021.
"DEC has reimagined the management of one of New York's most prized and renowned natural resources to ensure our trout streams continue to be healthy and provide excellent fishing opportunities for years to come," Commissioner Seggos said. "For the best possible management plan, DEC sought out the input of anglers, biologists, and other fisheries experts. The result is a balanced approach to manage these varied resources in accordance with their biological and recreational potential to meet the desired outcomes of a broad and diverse trout stream angling public. DEC looks forward to implementing the new Trout Stream Management Plan to enhance wild and stocked trout management and the habitats that support them to benefit current and future anglers."
Significant aspects of the plan are the result of more than 20 public meetings held with anglers in 2017 to identify desired outcomes for the state's numerous and diverse trout streams. The plan covers a broad spectrum of management areas and angler interests associated with trout stream management in New York. To view the plan and the categorization of managed trout stream reaches visit DEC's website.
The management plan draws a distinct line between stocked and wild trout management and prioritizes habitat management as the primary tool to improve and restore wild populations of trout. It also creates the foundation to learn and build upon for continuous improvement of the State's trout stream fisheries resources, solidifying DEC's commitment to protecting and promoting the health of wild trout fisheries.
The plan also takes into consideration the hundreds of thousands of New York anglers who enjoy the State's ongoing stocking efforts and balances protecting natural populations while supporting a robust hatchery network and partnerships that expand recreational opportunities and meet anglers' diverse needs. The plan extends the duration of stocking on select stream reaches, increases the size of stocked fish, and ensures that each stocking contains some fish that are 12 inches or larger. It also seeks to improve the vigor of hatchery brown trout for increased survival.
Anglers would also be provided with the ability to fish year-round through the creation of a statewide catch-and-release season. DEC has preliminarily concluded that fishing during the spawning season will not result in negative fishery impacts, and DEC will evaluate the potential impact of the catch-and-release season with a study on select streams.
Joe Fisher, Chairman of the New York State Conservation Council (NYSCC), said, "The NYSCC and the NYSCC fish committee applaud DEC's Trout Stream Management Plan and the regulations proposal. It is an excellent plan and will make New York State one of the leaders in trout management in North America for years to come!"
Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited, said, "Trout Unlimited welcomes and commends the DEC's Trout Management Plan as a new approach to trout management. Trout Unlimited is committed to achieving healthy, self-sustaining trout populations, and we fully support the guiding principles of the Plan to strive for naturally reproducing populations of wild and native trout while providing diverse fishing opportunities. The elimination of stocking over wild populations of trout in many streams and the focus on habitat restoration as a result of the Plan is a significant step for coldwater conservation. Trout Unlimited shares the DEC's interest in basing management decisions on sound science, and we look forward to working together to restore New York trout streams and to assist in the assessment of trout populations to ensure that management changes are having a positive effect on wild trout recovery."
DEC seeks continued angler engagement to support efforts moving forward, including developing a new angler-friendly interactive map for information on stream reach management and fishing access locations. DEC will also expand public outreach about the significance of wild trout populations and the water they inhabit.
The proposed regulations are published in the State Register today and are regulations.fish.