On Wednesday, October 24th, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed a new anti-poaching bill (H.B. 2293) into law. House Bill 2293, which takes effect immediately, increased the maximum fine that can be given to people caught illegally harvesting fish from $200 to $5,000 and increased the amount of time the Pennsylvania Fish and Boating Commission (PFBC) can suspend fishing and boating privileges from two years to five years. In addition to a $5,000 fine, the PFBC can now hit violators with the cost of replacing the fish that were harvested illegally.
H.B. 2293 also created a new section in the Pennsylvania’s Fish and Boat code called “serious unlawful take,” which changed the penalty for going over the legal daily limit of fish from a first degree summary offense to a second degree misdemeanor and increased the maximum amount of jail time that a violator can serve from 90 days to two years. Finally, the law increased the penalties for violators that fish with a suspended license from a summary offense of the first degree and a $200 fine to a third degree misdemeanor that warrants a $500 fine.
The primary sponsor of the bill was Representative Michael Peifer. Pennsylvania Legislative Sportsmen’s Co-Chairs Representative Marc Gergeley and Representative Keith Gillespie signed on as co-sponsors, along with numerous other Caucus members. The bill received strong bipartisan support and passed unanimously in both the House (194-0) and Senate (48-0) on October 15, 2012 and October 16, 2012 respectively.