State Attorney General Letitia James is seen Jan. 6.

State Attorney General Letitia James is seen Jan. 6. Credit: AP/Seth Wenig

New York State has filed suit against the Trump administration to officially contest the state's "unfair" share of the federal quota for fluke,  state Attorney General Letitia James and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Monday.

The suit follows release of December 2018 allocations for fluke that the state said remained disproportionately small and based on "inaccurate and outdated" fishing data, James said in a statement. 

Cuomo had first said the state would sue in 2013, but as recently as last year refrained from doing so as it attempted other remedies, including a petition filed with the federal government. "The message is loud and clear: we will fight this unfair quota until New York's access to summer flounder is consistent with national standards," Cuomo said in a statement. 

Hundreds of  Long Island commercial fluke fishermen have for decades decried New York’s share of the commercial fluke quota, which stands at just 7.6 percent, compared  with 21.3 for Virginia and 27.4 for North Carolina.

"I'm thrilled the governor has finally pulled the trigger," said Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing  Association, an industry group. "Hopefully, [Commerce Secretary Wilbur] Ross will understand how devastating this has been to New York fishermen." 

For much of the year, the New York quota amounts to 50 to 100 pounds of fluke a day, while other states allow fishermen to land tens of thousands of pounds a week, often from waters off New York.

"We need more quota and it was unjustly taken away from us," said Riverhead fisherman Phil Karlin, who has been advocating for the lawsuit for years. "If we win in court, it would be nice. New York should have more quota. Most of the fish are caught right off Long Island." 

The suit names as defendants U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.

 Spokesmen for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service weren’t available, their messages said because of the government shutdown.

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