Photo provided by the Basket Historical Society
John Snavely, left, and Charles Clark, with Billie Clark in the window, on opening day April 1, 1935. The note on the photo says “freezing.” The buttons on the men’s hats are their NY State fishing licenses.

Looking Back

Federal fishing regulations have existed since the 1800s, and unofficial protections date back even further to the Colonial Era, when European settlers set catch limits and gear limits for spawning periods. With fishing season upon us, today’s modern regulations will hopefully guide local fishermen to several successful and safe months of this rich historical activity.

In 1871, the first fish-specific conservation agency was created, called the U.S. Commission on Fish and Fisheries. Eventually, the commission merged with other programs within the Department of Agriculture, forming the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of Interior in 1940. Finally, after years of merges and name-changes, President Nixon signed an executive order to form the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) whose division, the National Marine Fisheries Service, regulates United States marine fisheries.

According to an issue of the “I FISH NY” newsletter from 2011, local fishing regulations in New York State had a similar history. The Fisheries, Game and Forest Commission was created in New York in 1895, which later paved the way for the establishment of today’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The Basket Historical Society preserves and presents the history of the Upper Delaware area. If you are interested in becoming a member or finding out more contact us at


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