Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Suffolk County joined Senator Charles E. Schumer and others last week in Washington D.C. to testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard during a hearing, “Developments and Opportunities in U.S. Fisheries Management.”
Senator Schumer testified that New York’s commercial and recreational fishermen have to deal with unfair recreational and commercial catch limits, putting the local fishing industry at a disadvantage compared to other states. Senator Schumer wants changes made to the Manguson-Stevens Act, the 1976 law that governs U.S. fisheries management.
CCE’s Marine Program Director Emeritus Emerson Hasbrouck testified in support of Schumer’s proposal which would offer flexibility into the rules which he says punish local anglers. Mr. Hasbrouck provided information on how the establishment of state-by-state quota allocation puts New York fisherman at significant disadvantage.
“The result of this is that New York receives a small annual quota allocation and thus New York fishermen fish under very low trip limits,” Mr. Hasbrouck said. “This has had a negative impact on New York fishing communities in terms of economic activity and jobs. We can estimate potential lost revenue to New York due to a disadvantaged quota system. In 2011 this amounted to a loss to NY of $12 million compared to RI and a loss of $9.3 million compared to NJ.”
“New York fishermen are allowed far less quota and thus a smaller trip limit than fishermen from these other states, even when fishing together in federal waters,” he added. “This makes little sense.”
Hasbrouck also said there is evidence that summer flounder, like other species, are experiencing changing migratory patterns based on changing ocean temperatures. This has resulted in a northward shift in the concentration of summer flounder, he said.
He supports a change from state-by-state allocation to a system based on a regional or coast-wide quota and associated trip limits aimed at providing equitable treatment for all fishermen. Another approach could be a combination of coast-wide and state-by-state quotas, depending on the season plus coupled with more flexibility within overall management system. Hasbrouck added that not all species can fully respond within an arbitrary rebuilding 10-year time frame.