The announcement in mid-October that James Gilmore had been elected Chairman of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) came as no surprise to anglers familiar with the fishery management process at the federal level.
Voted in by the ASMFC State Commissioners from Maine to Florida, the lifelong Amityville resident had spent the past two years as vice chairman. He is also Division of Marine Resources Director for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), a position he has held for the last decade and will continue to hold.
In his new role as ASMFC chairman, Gilmore oversees both administration and policy issues for the regulatory agency’s individual species management boards. The ASMFC, a joint commission of the 15 Atlantic Coast states, coordinates the conservation, management and sustainable use of shared coastal fishery resources including finfish. That process can trigger some strong debates.
“There are some challenges we need to tackle as quickly as possible,” said Gilmore, who has over 40 years of experience in resource, habitat and fisheries management, during a phone interview on Wednesday. “We need to rethink and modernize the way we allocate fisheries up and down the coast. For recreational fishing specifically, we need better data that is current and more closely resembles what is actually taking place on the water.”
Gilmore also wants the ASMFC to begin transitioning to multi-species management instead of aiming for maximum biomass of individual species. He believes, as do many local anglers, that more flexibility in the management process is necessary.
“The arbitrary deadlines that we have to work under while rebuilding overfished stocks sometimes don’t make a lot of sense,” he said. “That’s especially true with long-lived, slow-growing species like blackfish.”
According to Gilmore, the ASMFC is already addressing these issues. For fluke, they are revising survey methods for gathering data. The latest round of blackfish regulations stretched out the timetable for rebuilding overfished Long Island Sound stocks. A recently approved menhaden plan includes provisions that provide for adequate allocations for the bait fishery and a separate allocation to reduce or eliminate fish kills during periods of excessively high abundance in our local bays. Still, he acknowledges, more needs to be done.
“One thing I would really like to see is for New York’s fishermen, both recreational and commercial, to speak with a united voice,” said Gilmore. “That has really helped some states like New Jersey get their points across loud and clear.”
Out of the gate, Gilmore, who enjoys catching fluke and stripers along the South Shore, is saying the things local anglers want to hear. Will that eventually translate into fishing regulations Long Islanders see as reflective of their own experiences? Only time will tell.
Bass or turkey?
The great striped bass fishing inside and outside of Fire Island Inlet over the past two weeks remains hot — most days. The open boats Captree Pride, Island Princess, Captree Princess, and Jib VI have been using both clam chum and diamond jigs, depending on the trip. Last Sunday, angler Ben Lowder drilled a 58-pounder on the Captree Pride — the biggest bass to ever grace that deck.
Long Island turkey hunters are looking forward to opening day in Suffolk County on Saturday. Hunters who have not already taken a turkey this fall are allowed one bird of either sex. The season runs through Dec. 1.