Long Island fluke fishers have long struggled with unfair catch quotas. So they were justifiably upset at news that poor reproductive success recently might force a 43 percent reduction in next year's harvest in order to rebuild the stock.

No one wants a depleted fluke population, least of all fluke fishers. But there are less severe options, and they should be pursued, at least for now.

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Since the initial report of the 43 percent figure -- which would affect the entire Atlantic coast fishery -- a key committee of one of the two bodies that regulate fishing in the Northeast recommended a reduction closer to 30 percent and a phase-in period. That's a sound idea. Fluke data are pretty good, but could be better. Regulators should do a more thorough study of the population while reductions are phased in, a call backed by Sen. Chuck Schumer and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The new data would dictate whether the initial reduction needs tweaking.

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It's time, once and for all, to correct the quota system that puts New York fishers at a severe disadvantage with their peers in other states. New York's commercial fleet, for example, is allowed 7.6 percent of the total Atlantic fluke catch; other states can harvest two to three times as much. Cutting that meager allotment severely will put people out of business.

Let's take a little time to get this right, for both the short and long term, so Long Island's fluke fishers don't end up grounded.