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Commercials are taking all the flounder ? period!

28166 Views 84 Replies 44 Participants Last post by  strip
I have read a lot recently on the condition and fate of winter flounder in our waters, and I agree with most of it. But no one will ever convince me that this is a recreational problem or that we should be the ones to take the brunt of severe measures to bring them back. Especially when you consider that we are currently fishing at about 26.5% of what we were back in 1990, while the commercial are about 50% over what they were the same year.

In 1990 recreational anglers in NY State took, 1,106,590 ? pounds of winter flounder while at the same time the commercial fishery took just 640,445 ? pounds, basically giving us about 65% of the catch. It is actually higher than that if you average from 1980-1990, but I didn?t want to go back too far and make this seem like ancient history.

Then just 10-years later in the year 2000 things made quite a turnaround! Commercials took 960,122 ? pounds while recreational anglers took a mere 293,472 pounds! That?s right we?re fishing at 26.5% of what we were in 1990 and the commercials are fishing at 150% of what they had in 1990. And people want to know where all the flounder are going? It?s not the cormorants or the seals or the bass, it?s the inshore and offshore draggers. They?ve gotten so good at what they do that they are now catching the flounder we use to catch before they even get in the bay. And those that they miss, they get them when the flounder head out to sea in the fall.

The numbers don?t lye and they speak for themselves, the problem with this fishery is the commercials and unless we do something to address it they will be the only ones catching them. I?d be the first one to say close it down for everybody, but the fact is we aren?t putting a nick in this fishery.

The series of events that led to this commercialization of the winter flounder have been played out over and over again. We need a commercial moratorium, just like we did when we needed to bring back the bass, but the truth is we will never see one. Do you know why? It?s simple, because the commercials are catching more today than they were before, so to them there really isn?t a problem.

Think about it, ? in those ten years we took recreational anglers from no-bag limit and no season ? I can still remember fishing on some January and February days for flounder ? to what is now essentially a 4- month season with minimum sizes and bag limits. While at the same time doing nothing to curtail the commercial catch.

So please folk?s don?t let anyone fool you, if you took every single recreational angler out of this fishery it would do nothing more than allow for more fish to be caught in the commercial fishery. Just as it has over the past decade.

Hook and Line Only!
George R. Scocca
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Go George!


Great post. Personally, I agree with you.

Let the debate begin! Where are all the Comm's?

Good point George.

But why can't we be responsible for part of the solution. Because the truth is if this continues it's not worth me opening the shop in march. I would rather bite the bullet now and hope for better management in the future.

If we start cryin about the commercial guys, and arent willing to take steps ourselves then we are part of the problem. As you stated in your post that at a point we took more flounder than the commercial fleet. So the point is that the fishery is in trouble. Because if these fish arent making it to the bays where they spawn, then this is going to be a bigger problem.

So the next time someone catches a good flounder, before you throw it in the bucket ask your self. Do you really need that fish. If we all chip in then the commercial guys don't have a leg to stand on. They will not be able to point a finger at us and say what about them.

Like I said in my other post, I am willing to not open the shop till later. I would love nothing more than to see it bounce back.

Just a thought,
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Good work George

I couldn't agree with you more. As President of the Atlantis Anglers Association, I come in contact with many inshore fisherman, both from my club, and from other clubs on Long Island. To a man they all say that they don't even want to bother floundering. This has been the sentiment for the last 5 years or so. There hasnt been much success , so the fishery from a recreational standpoint has quickly dropped to a last resort thing. The commercials continually rape the ocean of all species, and the equipment is so efficient over the last 10 years, it aides them in doing so. Shut down the commercial netting of winter flounder , and we may see some come back around. Keep them rod and reel only. Give the fish a fighting chance!
commercial draggers and winter flounder

When are the Marine Fisheries people going to notice the real problem with winter flounder. I see the same 4 small draggers pounding Mount Hope Bay(off of Narraganset Bay) every day. The blame for the shortage of flounder is put on a power generating plant that uses bay water for cooling. While I know the plant isn't blameless, it isn't the total problem. These small draggers smash and kill more fish than they keep, just watch as they cull their catch before pushing the crushed and smashed fish over the side.
i have traveled to shore points from emmaus,penna.since 1954 trailing a boat
on must trips average round trip milage
230-280miles.regarding flounder/fluke
regulations,until we enlist the direct
help of the legislators/politicians we
are p------ into the wind.we are all
aware of the unfair situation resulting
from numerous hearings/meetings held each year with the same results each year,heavyly favoring the commericals.however,in spite of it all
i'll make another32to35 trips this year
mostly for fluke,can hardly wait to get
there.thank you lord for the opportunity
and health to enjoy my stay on this earth
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Ok George-

What should we do? I belong to the RFA and have sent many petitions to politicians regarding different species,but the winter flounder issue has never been addressed.Do we have a leg to stand on if the public demands flounder in the fish markets?We need a grass roots campign to inform the public of the crisis in the flounder fishery to gain support for closure.I don't particularly care for the green groups-but they have us on the ropes with fluke-Maybe they need to be informed about this situation. We need allies to fight the commercials.Basically we have to put our money where our mouths are to restore the winter flounder
I'm not a New yorker, but I fishied from Montauk since I was old enough to get on a boat. I'm still amazed that NY state lets the draggers work right up on the beach. If you guys could get them pushed two or three miles off the beach all the species would benefit.
If we can put the haulseiners out, like we did a decade ago, and impose a striped bass moratorium like we did, why can't we do something organized with the flounder? Heck, Billy, Cristy, Arnold (not Schwartznaggar) and the all the organized commercial efforts were not able to stop us before. If enough people, partyboat owners, tackle shop owners, you, me, all the recs, especially NYSFF, etc. are p.o.ed about it, there's no reason we can't win the battle.
Winter Flounder

I think we need to get some regs on those commercial boats. The netters have to be controlled or they will destroy any fishery that they are allowed to go after freely. They are like a virus that just consumes until there is nothing left.
What do we do to get something started to slow them down?
The draggers DO HAVE REGULATIONS on them. There are trip limits, seasonal closures and minimum mesh size laws.The commercial group that have the least limits are the guys fishing fykes in the bays in the winter. The powers that be do not seem to see the same problem with the fishery that we are now enduring. That is where you should focus yer efforts, educating the law makers about the recreational fishery, and the smaller number of fish being taken.But when you look at it, we have a lot less restrictions on us than do the commercial guys.We are all part of the problem, dead fish are dead fish no matter how we kill them. LATER
winter flounder

limit commies to a short season for bay species.Flounder fillet is a treat and need not be available in your supermarket 24/7/365.Ocean fish is very desirable and can keep the pro's working.Push the commies away from the beaches,bays and inlets.They are more than capable of finding something to sell us for dinner.If they are allowed to wipe out all we can reach,flounder will be only for the highest bidder.
lets do something about it then

As a result of reading these posts, I am going to sit down and write a simple letter. I am going to send it to as many politicians and organizations as I can think of. Its not much, but its a start, and if every recreational fisherman does the same, relentlessly, maybe something will start. Talking amongst ourselves may make us feel better, nothing wrong with that, but we have to go past that. I urge everyone who took the time to post here to do the same, and I am sure alot already are.
I also agree with John that its not the end of the world if the recreational angler do the right thing, even though we didnt create the problem. I dont keep any fish under twelve inches, and I would never actually keep anywhere near limit even if it was possible to catch that many these days.
The only reason we enjoy striped bass fishing today is from past regulation. Maybe some younger fishermen dont remember a time when the bass vanished, and the laws that followed. Lets not let the flounder situation get to that same point.
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I agree also about the draggers.
We regular fisherman have a bag limit
and these guys are snatching everything in sight!
Size doesnt matter & No limit.
They just move in and decimate the area!
Maybe oneway of bringing back the flounder,stripe bass, black fish etc..
Is too start some kind of fish farm
to introduce these fish back to the water.
There doing it with oysters why not fish too?
Thanks Sully!

All I wanted to do was start a buzz. And now George and I did that. So lets take it to the next level.


That is an excellent idea, but there are lots of "green" groups that will squash all hopes for it because raising any fish at a farm is demeaning.... LOL.... Heck, PETA is trying to get the government to pass a law that would prohibit fishing OR hunting in any state park. Thus, we'd lose Connetquot and many others, like FINS....

There already are attempts being made with salt water fish farming. However the results have been inconsistant so far

I’m not really sure what restrictions on draggers you’re referring to regarding winter flounder. If any additional restrictions were added from 1990 until now, then they have had a negative effect as the commercial take has increased while the recreational take has all but disappeared. These numbers cannot be ignored. If fisheries managers were able to restrict us as well as they’ve done, then why not do the same to the draggers?

The one undeniable fact in all this is we have witnessed a recreational collapse in the winter flounder fishery and at the same time the commercial catch has gone up.

Sounddevil and the others,

The reason I don’t believe that recreational anglers should see any further reduction in the winter flounder fishery is simply because we have been nearly eliminated from the fishery as it stands, we’re catching just 26.5% of what we caught ten-years ago and the results have not been very encouraging. We need to let the fish get past the draggers and into the bays, and then we need to let them get out of the bays in the fall, and we need to shut down the spawning season entirely.

As for what we do next – I’m not really sure. Many people say “we brought back the bass why can’t we do it for flounder?” I’m afraid it’s not that simple.

As I stated in my earlier post, in the case of the striped bass we were dealing with a fishery that had affected both commercial and recreational interests. The problem here is that the commercial fishery is doing fine so the pressure isn’t there to do anything about it.

Hopefully something will be done soon, before it’s too late.
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The flounder fishery collapse is as serious a problem as the bass collapse was and deserves the same attention. I support the same strict measures that have been responsible for bringing back the bass.

George, if possible could you provide us with a form letter and a list of pol's e-mail addresses so we can jam their mail boxes full of messages supporting stricter regs?
Commercials arent the only reason

George, thats a very well thought out and written article. I have been fishing for as long as I can remember and I know that the commercial fishermen are a huge part of the fish decline. However, they are not the only reason.

As you said from 1990 to 2000, the commercials have taken more than the recs. But if you add up the 2 numbers, there has been an overall decline in fish. Dont get me wrong, I agree, regs need to be uped, but thats not the only thing. Decline in water quality, seal population explosions and brown tide (which destroys clams and mussles) all help to reduce flounder populations. We are all to blame for this (commercial fisherman moreso, in my opinion).

Just as a side note, how many times have you seen undersize fish being kept by the recreational fisherman?? Because in my experience Ive seen it done quite often, even on party boats.

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