New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. applauded Governor Andrew Cuomo for calling on the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) to undertake an immediate reassessment of regulations pertaining to the amount of summer flounder that may be legally caught by commercial or recreational fishermen.
The DOC’s Fisher Management Plan (FMP) sets the amount of fish that may be caught and hauled to shore during a given year. Thiele notes data used to determine New York’s share of the fishery are incomplete and out of date, which hinders Long Island’s fishermen and diminishes the fishing industry’s competitiveness with neighboring states such as New Jersey that have significantly higher allocations under the FMP. As a result of New York’s lower allocations, the state has been forced to raise size limits as high as 21 inches to comply with FMP requirements, while anglers in neighboring states can catch 17 to 18 inch fluke.
“Especially here on the East End, our economy is driven by the commercial and recreational fishing industries,” said Thiele. “Time and time again we have seen the fishing industry being over regulated and burdened with nonsense bureaucratic procedures. Our fishermen are becoming extinct. Governor Cuomo is right to step in and fight for the rights of our fishermen.”
Summer flounder is one of the most important species for commercial fishing in New York. In 2011, a total of 1.4 million pounds of summer flounder were landed in New York at a value of $3.4 million. If New York’s FMP allocation were the same as neighboring states, fishermen would have been allowed to land nearly four million pounds, resulting in $9.8 million in revenue.
The federal government’s FMP allocation is also detrimental to recreational fishing on Long Island. In 2011, recreational New York fishermen caught more than 7.5 million summer flounder. Due to the FMP’s limitation on New York State, however, only about 375,000 of those caught that year could be harvested legally.
As a whole, New York State’s fishing industry generates roughly $1.8 billion in economic activity every year and supports nearly 17,000 jobs.