Photo: Sea Spray Fishing Charters/Facebook

The decision last month by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to reduce New York’s black sea bass quota by 12 percent this year has anglers, state environmental regulators and local lawmakers up in arms.

“This action discriminates against the State of New York. It would have a significant adverse effect on the Long Island economy,” State Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) and Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) said yesterday in a joint statement.

New York has joined Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut in an appeal of the 12-percent quota reduction and is prepared to take further action, including litigation, the State DEC commissioner told Newsday.

The black sea bass quota reduction for the northern states in the Atlantic fishery came despite the fact that the fishery has been rebuilt to two-and-a-half times what regulators consider sustainable.

At the same time while the five states in the southern sector, including New Jersey, will see their allocations grow. New Jersey will have bigger minimum catch sizes, higher catch limits and a longer season than New York.

That’s fundamentally unfair, argue critics of the decision.

“With the vast majority of Long Island fishing taking place in waters shared with New Jersey and Connecticut, such as the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound, it is unfair that New York anglers are, once again, being penalized with smaller fishing quotas than neighboring states,” Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said in a statement.

“For my constituents, who are both fishermen and small business owners trying to attract customers, the ASFMC’s decision to, once again, cut New York off from its fair share while allowing New Jersey’s allocation to grow, is unacceptable. Two boats fishing next to each other with one allowed to catch up to double the amount of the other because they are landing the fish in New Jersey instead of New York is ridiculous and inequitable,” Zeldin said.

The congressman criticized New York’s representatives on the commission for supporting the new quota reduction. The state’s representatives on the fisheries commission “must fight more aggressively…to advocate for New York’s anglers,” Zeldin said, calling on them to step aside if they are unwilling to fight for New York fishermen, who “year after year continue to get screwed.”

LaValle and Thiele advocated utilizing “every legal and administrative tool” at the state’s disposal to overturn the commission’s decision — including non-compliance if all else fails.

“Again and again, we have seen politics replace science to the detriment of New York State fishermen, whether they are recreational anglers, charter boat captains, or commercial fishermen,” the state lawmakers said.

“When the federal government is arbitrary and capricious, the state must say ‘no.’ Unfortunately, this is part of a long history of federal action that has strangled the fishing industry in New York to the benefit of other states. DEC advocacy for our fishing industry is long overdue.”

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.