At Mid-Season, Many New York Fishermen Are on Their Last Line 

 

Photo Credit: Jane T. Ahrens

August 27, 2019
From Rep. Lee Zeldin’s Office
Rep. Lee Zeldin represents the First Congressional District of New York in the U.S. House of Representatives

Long Island was built in large part on a rich maritime heritage of boaters and fishermen, generation after generation, putting food on the table and providing a better life for their families working on our beautiful local waterways. Unfortunately, this current generation of New York fishermen is being dealt blow after blow as they attempt to continue this tradition.

A substantial amount of Long Island fishing takes place in waters shared with New Jersey and Connecticut, such as the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound. However, with the quotas and regulations that dictate how much each boat can catch being tied to the state the boat lands in rather than the waterways it fishes in, when two boats are fishing next to each other, one is allowed to catch up to double the amount of the other because they are landing the fish in New Jersey instead of New York. This is absolutely ridiculous, and our local fishermen are the ones who suffer the consequences.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) is responsible for setting regulations for both commercial and recreational fishing by state as well as coordinating and managing fishery resources. Delegates are appointed from each state to represent and fight for their state’s fishermen.

ASMFC is not delivering for New York. For example, last year, ASMFC cut New York’s Black Sea Bass quota by 12%, contrary to the fact that Black Sea Bass was 240% above target biomass, while increasing the quotas for neighboring states like New Jersey. These inequitable and nonsensical quotas continued through this season and contributed to hardships faced by our local fishing industry.

Photo Credit: Jane T. Ahrens

A few months ago, ASMFC made another bad decision to cut the Atlantic Striped Bass fishery by up to 17% next year and recommended maintaining the current ban on striped bass fishing in the Block Island Sound Transit Zone. Rather than rooting these decisions in local stock assessments, ASMFC used flawed data that measures the Atlantic Striped Bass stock based on the entire eastern seaboard and failed to account for Atlantic Striped Bass outside of the 3-mile fishing area, assuming fish abide by arbitrary bureaucratic boundaries. Alternative data that shows the Striped Bass stock is in a better place outside the 3-mile limit was not only thrown out by the Commission, but the Commission also moved to no longer perform data collection in those waters, virtually ensuring that any future decision regarding the Striped Bass fishery will be based on flawed data in perpetuity.

As New York fishermen approach mid-season for Black Sea Bass, I am once again calling on ASMFC to deliver for New York fishermen and rectify New York’s already inequitable quotas for species across the board, including Black Sea Bass, Striped Bass and Summer Flounder (“Fluke”).

If ASMFC still refuses to take action, the State of New York, led by Governor Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), must immediately go into non-compliance, set their own fair and environmentally conscious quotas, and follow the successful model of New Jersey, which proposed its own quota for recreational fluke, and other states that have secured parity for their fishermen. Non-compliance wasn’t the first option, but is necessary now and allows New York to set its own fair and equitable quota and provide immediate relief.

These new quotas should safeguard conservation efforts while supporting New York’s fishing industry. As co-chair of the Long Island Sound Caucus and the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, I understand that our waterways are our way of life on Long Island and we are all invested in keeping our coastal wildlife in pristine shape, most of all for our fishermen.

Everyday action is not taken to rectify the mistakes of the ASMFC makes New York fishermen less competitive compared to their counterparts in other states. Our fishermen work hard to put food on our tables and their own and are currently the victims of an objectively unfair system of quotas that lack common sense. Let’s stand and support our fishermen who are part of the backbone that makes Long Island so great.

 

Rep. Lee Zeldin represents the First Congressional District of New York in the U.S. House of Representatives.

For Immediate Release
August 27, 2019
Press Contact: Katie Vincentz
(202) 431-9210
katie.vincentz@mail.house.gov

 

 

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