Rep. Zeldin Blasts NY’s ASMFC Delegates for Failure to Deliver for NY Fishermen

May 21, 2019
Press Release
Calls on State to Formally Enter Non-Compliance Process, Remove McMurray from ASMFC & Insist on Use of Accurate Local Data

PATCHOGUE, NY - Today, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) blasted New York’s delegates to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) following the conclusion of this month’s spring meeting, during which no progress was made in rectifying New York’s already inequitable quotas for species across the board, including Black Sea Bass, Striped Bass and Fluke.

Last year, the 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. Due to the failures of New York’s delegates, these inequitable quotas will continue through this upcoming season. It is important to point out though that of New York’s three seats on the ASMFC, Emerson Hasbrouck has consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to fighting for New York’s fishermen.

Additionally, New York area fishermen faced a major blow due to the 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, the ASMFC used flawed data that measures the Atlantic Striped Bass stock based on the entire eastern seaboard, yet failed 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 the ASMFC to make a future recommendation against opening up the transit zone to striped bass. This month, the 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 this important legislation, and the Senate must finally take action to send it to the President’s desk.

“Year after year, New York fishermen are dealt unfair quotas that pale in comparison to neighboring states. 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, 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. The State of New York, with the leadership of Governor Cuomo and the DEC (Commissioner Basil Seggos by the way has been a great partner throughout this process), 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 the ASMFC to get their act together.”

For example, thanks to the advocacy of New Jersey’s delegates on behalf of New Jersey’s anglers, New Jersey’s commercial summer flounder quota of 1,500 lbs per week at the height of the season is more than triple New York’s commercial Summer Flounder quota of 490 lbs per week this season.

Non-compliance 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 their own quota for recreational Summer Flounder (aka Fluke), was found “out of compliance” by the ASMFC, appealed the ASMFC’s decision all the way to the Secretary of Commerce and won.

“It is imperative that New York State step up to the plate for our fishermen and pursue alternative data collection methods so that flawed decisions made by the ASMFC can be challenged. The State of Florida is instituting it’s own data collection program on Red Snapper utilizing state resources from local universities to do the science and statistics. With world class marine science institutions like Stony Brook, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), and Cornell that can do the research, this is the model New York should be following.

“The only thing New York’s delegates to the ASMFC seem to be effective at is taking it lying down. These decisions have taken place while a New York delegate has served as the ASFMC’s chairman, which is appalling. In addition, New York’s third delegate, John McMurray, who has somehow managed to become known as the most notorious and hypocritical anti-fishermen fishermen in the state, is the antithesis of who should be appointed to the ASMFC and must be removed. Not only has he proven to be an ineffective advocate, he has repeatedly villainized the very hardworking Long Islanders he is supposed to represent.

“If they won’t fight for hard working New Yorkers, Governor Cuomo must appoint delegates who will. Middle-class Long Islanders are losing their vessels and family businesses over bad policy, and they can’t afford to wait. With their livelihoods relying on the health and vitality of our community’s waterways, there’s no doubt our area’s fishermen are committed to protecting and preserving our environment, but when New Jersey fishermen are catching twice the fish in the same waters, New York fishermen are unfairly bearing the burden.”