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Fisheries commission repeals cuts to NY black sea bass quota

Reaction to the repeal was mixed. Some called it a win, while others said it didn’t go far enough to help New York anglers.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, seen here on March 22,

Sen. Chuck Schumer, seen here on March 22, said his office helped bring about a compromise that leaves the federal black sea bass quota unchanged. Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Saul Loeb

An interstate fisheries commission voted Thursday to reverse a planned reduction to New York’s 2018 quota for locally-abundant black sea bass.

New York recreational anglers could have faced a 12 percent decrease in the allowable catch for black sea bass this year under a federal mandate. The season also would not have started until July.

But in response to an appeal filed by New York and other states, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission instead voted Thursday to extend the fishing season by four days, a commission manager said.

New York’s black sea bass season will open on June 23, compared with June 27 last year, according to Caitlin Starks, fishery management plan coordinator for black sea bass at the commission.

Reaction to the vote was mixed.

Joe Tangel, captain of the King Cod charter boat in Moriches, said the new quota still leaves New York fishermen at a disadvantage to New Jersey, where anglers can keep smaller fish and more of them — up to 15 fish a day in November at 12.5 to 13 inches or larger.

New York anglers will be able to take three fish a day when the season opens. Then from Sept. 1 through the end of the year, they will be able to take seven black sea bass per day — down from eight to 10 last fall.

The minimum size fish remains 15 inches.

The commission’s vote is “bad for business and it’s a fake increase,” Tangel said. “It doesn’t help anybody in New York at all.”

U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) called the deal “worse than status quo.”

“This ‘deal’ is no victory for New York fishermen” because other regional states “are receiving an increase,” he said in a release. He said he wants New York to have similar quotas to New Jersey and Connecticut.

But Capt. Tony DiLernia, New York’s representative on the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council, which also manages fisheries, called the vote a “real win.”

“The fact that we didn’t get as much as Jersey did — OK, I understand that,” he said. “But we were trying to fight a reduction, and we achieved it.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement that pressure by his office and others led fisheries regulators to broker a compromise.

“In this instance, I am very pleased the commission was responsive to the justified anger expressed by Long Island’s and New York’s fishing community and elected leaders, and were wisely persuaded by the facts to make sound changes that protect the anglers and the fishing stocks,” Schumer said in a prepared statement.

Representatives of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which advocated for the reversal, did not return calls seeking comment Thursday.

In addition to nixing the reduction, the commission voted to develop an action plan for next year’s black sea bass fishery and to study the impact of recent changes in population and management.

Black sea bass populations are thriving in waters around the northeast. The fish are primarily caught off boats in deeper waters around Long Island rather than from the surf.

DEC commissioner Basil Seggos had previously said the state would fight the planned reductions, including filing suit and going into noncompliance on the rules if the federal government did not act. The state has made similar demands to change New York’s share of the commercial fluke quota.

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