At Black Sea Bass Mid-Season, Rep. Zeldin Reissues Call for ASMFC Delegates to Deliver for NY Fishermen, Reiterates Call on State to Formally Enter Non-Compliance Process | Congressman Lee Zeldin

At Black Sea Bass Mid-Season, Rep. Zeldin Reissues Call for ASMFC Delegates to Deliver for NY Fishermen, Reiterates Call on State to Formally Enter Non-Compliance Process

August 19, 2019
Press Release

PATCHOGUE, NY - Today, as New York fishermen approach mid-season for Black Sea Bass, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1), once again called on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) to deliver for New York fishermen and rectify New York’s already inequitable quotas for species across the board, including Black Sea Bass, Striped Bass and Summer Flounder (“Fluke”).

On behalf of New York fishermen, Congressman Zeldin is calling for:

  • ASMFC to fight for equitable quotas compared to neighboring states;

  • Lifting the ban on Striped Bass fishing in Block Island Sound; 

  • New York to go into non-compliance, which would allow the state to set its own quota that safeguards conservation efforts while supporting its fishing industry; 

  • Congress to pass and the President to sign into law the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act (H.R. 3697);

  • ASMFC to root data collection in accurate local stock assessments.

Last year, ASMFC cut New York’s Black Sea Bass quota by 12%, contrary to the fact that Black Sea Bass was 240% above target biomass, while increasing the quotas for neighboring states like New Jersey. These inequitable quotas continued through this season. 

On the other hand, thanks to the successful advocacy of New Jersey’s delegates on behalf of New Jersey’s anglers, New Jersey’s commercial fluke quota of 1,500 lbs per week at the height of the season is more than triple New York’s commercial fluke quota of 490 lbs per week this season.

Additionally, New York area fishermen faced a major blow this season due to ASMFC’s decision to cut the Atlantic Striped Bass fishery by up to 17% next year and recommend maintaining the current ban on striped bass fishing in the Block Island Sound Transit Zone. Rather than rooting these decisions in local stock assessments, ASMFC uses flawed data that measures the Atlantic Striped Bass stock based on the entire eastern seaboard. However, it fails to account for Atlantic Striped Bass outside of the 3-mile fishing area, assuming fish abide by arbitrary bureaucratic boundaries. Alternative data that shows the Striped Bass stock is in a better place outside the 3-mile limit was not only thrown out by the Commission, but the Commission also moved to no longer perform data collection in those waters, virtually ensuring that any future decision regarding the Striped Bass fishery will be based on flawed data in perpetuity. New York’s representatives supported an initial February vote that allowed ASMFC to make a future recommendation against opening up the transit zone to striped bass, and again this May, ASMFC voted to punt that decision and maintain the ban. 

In March 2018, Congressman Zeldin’s legislative proposal to allow Striped Bass fishing in the Block Island Sound was passed and signed into law. Furthermore, last year, the House of Representatives passed the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act (H.R. 200), which would improve federal fisheries law so that regulations and quotas can be more transparent, equitable, and fair, improving data collection and science and ending the current arbitrary ten year rebuilding timeline, by replacing it with a more flexible approach that helps fishermen while preserving important fisheries. This Congress, the House must once again pass the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act, and the Senate must send it to the President’s desk to become law. 

Lastly, Congressman Zeldin is calling on the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to go into non-compliance which would allow the State of New York to set its own quota that safeguards conservation efforts while supporting its fishing industry. In 2017, with those at every level of government and side of the aisle on board, the State of New Jersey proposed its own quota for recreational fluke, was found “out of compliance” by ASMFC, appealed ASMFC’s decision all the way to the Secretary of Commerce and won.

“Year after year, New York fishermen are dealt unfair quotas that pale in comparison to neighboring states, and this season has been no different. The vast majority of Long Island fishing takes place in waters shared with New Jersey and Connecticut, such as the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound, which means that when two boats are fishing next to each other, one is allowed to catch up to double the amount of the other because they are landing the fish in New Jersey instead of New York. This is absolutely ridiculous, and our local fishermen are the ones who suffer the consequences. The State of New York, led by Governor Cuomo and the DEC, must immediately go into non-compliance, set their own fair and environmentally conscious quotas, and follow the successful model of New Jersey and other states that have secured parity for their fishermen. Non-compliance is never the first option, but allows New York to set its own fair and equitable quota and provide immediate relief as we continue to urge state delegates to ASMFC to get their act together.”