The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has notified State-licensed commercial fishermen that New York State’s marine waters will be temporarily closed to commercial summer flounder (fluke) harvest and landings as of 12:00 a.m. on Sept. 15.
DEC’s Division of Marine Resources reports that internal landings and projections for Quota Period 5 (Aug. 1 – Sept. 30) show that at the current rate of harvest, New York’s commercial fishermen will exceed the pounds available for Period 5, requiring a closure to prevent impacts to fishermen harvesting summer flounder later in the year and/or to prevent the State from overharvesting its 2018 federal allocation. The commercial summer flounder fishery will reopen on Oct. 1 as planned.
Period closures are routine mechanisms that prevent the overharvest of quota managed species. When commercial harvest landings are projected to exceed harvest allocations for a period, a period closure becomes necessary. New York State’s commercial summer flounder allocation, as established in federal regulations, is not large enough to support fishing capacity, requiring these closures to prevent overharvest. The State is currently pursuing a larger commercial summer flounder allocation through the interstate fisheries management process and has also filed a petition with the federal government on this issue.
In March, Governor Cuomo and the Attorney General’s office jointly filed a petition with the federal government demanding that New York’s commercial fluke allocation be increased because the current allocations are unfair to New York, not based on current data, and violate the Magnuson-Stevens Act. If the federal government does not make the change to a more equitable distribution of quotas, the state will pursue all available legal options to obtain an equitable share of the fishery.
DEC is taking this temporary closure action pursuant to the quota distribution schedule of subdivision 40.1(l)(3)(4) and (u)(2) of 6 NYCRR. The most recent landings accounting report was generated Sept. 11, and updates will be posted on DEC’s website.
DEC Increases Daily Trip Limits for the Commercial Bluefish and Scup Fisheries on Sept. 16
DEC notified State-licensed commercial fishermen that the commercial bluefish daily trip limit will increase from 1,000 lbs. to 2,000 lbs. for Period 4 (Sept. 1 – Oct. 30) beginning at 12:00 a.m. on Sept. 16, two weeks earlier than expected. The limit increase will remain in effect until further notice.
For the commercial scup fishery, the daily trip limit will increase from 600 lbs. to 2,000 lbs. for the remainder of Summer Period III (Sept. 1 – Sept. 30). NOAA Fisheries has established an initial coastwide Federal Possession Limit (per-trip) of 12,000 lbs. beginning Oct. 1, for the opening of Winter Period II (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31.)
**Please note: There is always the potential for early period closures should the harvest for these species exceed respective quota allocations.
DEC’s Division of Marine Resources holds annual meetings with the commercial fishing industry to determine how to distribute the state’s allocation for each quota managed species throughout the calendar year. Based on input collected at these meetings, DEC develops quota distribution plans that allocate a portion of the quota to defined periods throughout the year. The intention is to preserve access to these resources for New York’s commercial fishermen and women throughout the Marine and Coastal District that fish from different ports, using different gear types, and vessels.
This action is taken under the authority of 6 NYCRR 40.1 (u) and the quota distribution schedule reference therein.