A proposed U.S. Senate bill to reauthorize a key federal fisheries law will include language to revise regulations that penalize New York fluke fishing interests, Sen. Charles Schumer said Wednesday.
Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he has negotiated to have major elements of his Fluke Fairness Act incorporated into a bill to reauthorize a law that governs fishery management.
"This is the biggest advance we've made for the fluke fishermen yet," Schumer said. "We are now on a track to really permanently fix our fluke problem."
Provisions from Schumer's bill that will be added to Senate reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation Act include:
A mandate for a new plan for management of the fluke fishery based on "best available science," instead of outdated or flawed fisheries data.
Consideration of the migratory movement of fluke in allocating commercial and recreational catch quotas.
A regional or coastwide management system for fluke, to replace a system Schumer said has long shortchanged New York fishing interests.
Prohibition of current state-by-state allocations of recreational and commercial fluke quotas based on historical fish landings.
Schumer cited the bipartisan group supporting the legislation, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) and Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), chairman of the subcommittee considering the reauthorization, in expressing confidence that it will pass Congress. A House version of the act doesn't yet include the fluke language.
New York fishing interests have complained for decades that federal rules give most other coastal states an advantage in fish quotas.
Commercial fishing boats from New York get 7.6 percent of the fluke allotment, while states such as North Carolina and Virginia get more than 20 percent each.