Recreational fluke, sea bass, and scup measures were discussed first.
-Fluke is still the horror show we saw in December's MAFMC/ASMFC meeting. NY's main hope is some relief in way of the State/Industry lawsuit. Otherwise, there are scarce few avenues we have to pursue that would allow us a season over fifty days. However, DEC and industry are exhausting old and new avenues in search of a solution.
-Sea Bass are very set in stone, not iffy, like at the December meeting. If you remember, the open season and twenty-five fish bag were retained w/ a half-inch size increase, assuming the MRFSS Wave Five data came in showing we needed a ten percent reduction. If there was no reduction necessary, then the regulations would remain as per 2008. Wave Five landings data were underestimated, so the half-inch increase will stand.
-Scup is not good, either. Althought the December meeting officially required a 63% reduction, we were hopeful that the pending stock assessment would indicate a much larger biomass, allowing landings similar to 2008. However, preliminary looks at the data show that we are facing a 38% reduction in landings over last year.
Saltwater License (SWL)
-There was extensive discussion on the newly modified SWL. After two years of discussion between industry and DEC, the Governor's Budget Director swooped in and grabbed the SWL as the cash cow he saw. As a result, we are facing a $19 fee for residents, $40 for non-residents, and virtually no other allowances or exemptions. All monies will go into the Conservation Fund, which is where all fresh water and hunting license fees go. This money is disbursed by the Conservation Fund Advisory Board. This Board is comprised of a representative from each of the nine DEC regions, plus two other statuatory members. That means the marine district will never have more than one representative on a Board of eleven at any time. Fishermen need to advise their state assemblypersons and senators that the current license, as proposed by the Governor's Office, is unacceptable, and they must propose and endorse a Bill in line w/ that recommended by the MRAC. More on this action at a later date, when other factors are set up.
-There is a high probability that there will be a closure of the winter flounder season in NY, and many other states. There is a meeting of the advisory council on the federa level coming up soon, and it is expected that most states will follow whatevcer action is taken there.
-The Town of East Hampton asked for an endorsement from MRAC for a hatchery program they would like to run. They would like to spawn a number of flounders and stock them in Napeague Harbor. Although there was strong support for this operation, the motion to support it was tabled pending information from DEC scientists about implications that may be incurred. Since this will not happen until the March meeting, the small window available for the success of this operation will be lost for this year.
-Commercial horse's foot fishing was discussed, as to the relationship of NJ's fishery and the huge export that we have seen to that state since their closure. NY still adopts a quota that is about one-half of what we are allowed by ASFMC. There was also concern expressed about the possibility of smaller entities closing their beaches to the fishery, which would only lead to strained enforcement and furthur poaching. The Town of Brookhaven and Fire Island National Seashore are two entities considering closing their beaches to horshoe crabbing.