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Federal Restrictions Force Changes in N.Y. Fluke Season
Steve Byrne

Posted: 12:00 AM Thu, March 26, 2009

DEC, Fishing Community Maximize Peak Periods While Complying with Mandate

Forced to comply with strict federal restrictions, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis today announced new limits for summer flounder (fluke) for the upcoming recreational fishing season.

For 2009, the minimum size limit will be 21 inches, compared to 20.5 last year. The bag limit will be two fish, down from four. Additionally, there will be a split season:
Open May 15 - June 15.
Closed June 16 - July 2.
Open July 3 - August 17.
Closed thereafter.

New York has been mandated by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council to reduce fluke harvest from last year. To comply with the mandate, DEC convened a series of meetings with the Marine Resources Advisory Council - made up of representatives of the recreational fishing community - to develop options that would protect the historically busiest fluke fishing periods on both the north and south shores of Long Island. Commissioner Grannis said the selected option would maintain a viable fluke fishery for all anglers while ensuring that New York meets the federal requirements.
Federal Lawsuit Over Fluke Management

Commissioner Grannis pointed out that in 2008 New York filed a federal lawsuit challenging the methods and data used to manage coastal fluke populations. The lawsuit claims that the National Marine Fisheries Service violated federal law by using outdated and scientifically unreliable data to establish fluke harvest limits along the Atlantic Coast, resulting in inequitable treatment of New York anglers. For example, in 2008 an angler on the New York side of Raritan Bay could land four fluke per day with each fish measuring at least 20.5 inches long while someone on the New Jersey side of the bay could land eight fluke at only 18 inches long.

New York is prepared to quickly make adjustments to the fluke season and bag limits in the event that the court renders a favorable decision this season, the commissioner said.

"These are difficult times for our saltwater anglers and the fishing industry overall," Commissioner Grannis said. "The limits that we have set - with the input of the fishing community - are not ideal but are the best compromise for all of New York's anglers under the severe federal restrictions. While making the adjustments for 2009, we will continue to use all available means to ensure that New York's anglers are not placed at a disadvantage by unfair federal requirements."

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