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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 28, 2012

SCHUMER CALLS ON COMMERCE SECRETARY TO KEEP NEW YORKER IN THE AT-LARGE SEAT ON MID-ATLANTIC FISHERY COUNCIL; SEAT KEY TO FIGHTING UNFAIR FISHING ALLOCATIONS FOR LONG ISLAND ANGLERS



At-Large Seat on Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Council Set to Expire in August

In Letter to Commerce Secretary, Schumer Urges Appointment of New Yorker to Seat; Additional Seat Must Stay in New York and Not Given to Another State

Schumer: New York Must Have an Equal Voice at the Table to Address Unfair Fluke Regs and More

 

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged Commerce Secretary John Bryson to keep a New Yorker in the soon-to-be-vacant at-large seat on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC). Currently, New York fishing allocations are based on outdated and scientifically unreliable data that results in inequitable treatment of New York anglers, especially in the popular fluke fishery. Schumer said that representation on MAFMC, with its responsibility for deciding fish allocations among states, is essential in correcting this inequity.

 

In a letter to Secretary Bryson, Schumer said that if New York were to lose this seat on the Council when Steven Schafer, a New Yorker who currently holds an at-large seat, sees his term expire on August 10, 2012, it is unlikely that the arbitrary and inequitable treatment of the New York recreational fishery could be corrected. Schumer noted that Governor Andrew Cuomo has put forward three very strong New Yorkers for this seat and is urging Bryson to appoint one of them to the at-large seat in order to help immediately address the inaccuracies in historical data used to calculate unfair quotas for New York.

 

“Keeping this seat for New York, and not ceding it to any other state, is the only way New York anglers will get their fair share,” said Schumer. “For too long, New York anglers have gotten the short end of the stick, subjected as they are to unfair fishing allocations based outdated, scientifically unreliable data. But make no mistake, if we lose this seat, we will lose our opportunity to finally fix these allocations, and Secretary Byrson should not to let that happen.”  

MAFMC is responsible for management of fisheries in federal waters of the Mid-Atlantic coast, and one of the key roles of the MAFMC is to decide how fish allocations are divided among states. States with voting representation include New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. The Council also appoints industry advisors to work with Council Committees during the preparation of fishery management plans and amendments.

Currently, New York’s allocations are based on outdated and scientifically unreliable data resulting in inequitable treatment of New York anglers. According to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, NOAA uses flawed data from one fishing season in 1998 to set the baseline for fluke limits without considering recent significant changes in the fluke population and fishing patterns. Furthermore, because of flaws in the state-by-state quota system, New York is arbitrarily saddled with a disproportionate burden of the federal plan for the fluke's recovery. 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. This inequity still exists today and must to be corrected by the MAFMC.  Schumer urged Bryson to personally intercede in correcting these flaws in the management system and has also called for GAO investigation of this problem.

 

Schumer said that the arbitrary and inequitable treatment of the New York recreational fishery vis-à-vis its neighbors makes it very important that New York have the best representation possible on the MAFMC. If New York loses a seat on the MAFMC, Schumer says he fears there will be insufficient votes in the council to correct this injustice and provide New York anglers with fairer fishing allocations.

 

A copy of Schumer’s letter to Secretary Bryson can be found below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 27, 2012

 

The Honorable John E. Bryson

Secretary

U.S. Department of Commerce

1401 Constitution Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20230

 

Dear Secretary Bryson:

 

I write regarding New York’s representation on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) and a seat on the council that will soon be open for appointment. Mr. Steven Schafer, a New Yorker who currently holds an at-large seat on the MAFMC, is about to have his term expire. It is very important that New Yorker retains this seat and I urge you to appoint a New Yorker to the position.

 

As you know, the MAFMC is responsible for management of fisheries in federal waters of the Mid-Atlantic. One of the key roles of the MAFMC is to decide how fish allocations are divided among states. Currently, there are a number of New York’s stock allocations – especially for the popular recreational fish summer flounder – that are calculated based on inaccurate historical catch data points 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. This is unfair and must to be corrected by the MAFMC.

 

According to New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, NOAA uses flawed data from one fishing season in 1998 to set the baseline for fluke limits without considering recent significant changes in the fluke population and fishing patterns. Furthermore, because of flaws in the state-by-state quota system, New York is arbitrarily saddled with a disproportionate burden of the federal plan for the fluke's recovery.

 

The arbitrary and inequitable treatment of the New York recreational fishery vis-à-vis its neighbors makes it very important that New York have the best representation possible on the MAFMC. If New York loses a seat on the MAFMC, I fear that there will be insufficient votes in the council to correct this injustice and provide New York angles with fairer fishing allocations.  Therefore, I implore you to act on these two critically important issues.  First, New York must retain the at-large seat on the Council.  Second, the Commerce Department should work with the entire Council to fix the inaccuracies in the catch allocation systems that disadvantage New York anglers and prevent best species management practices from utilization by fisheries managers.

 

I am advised that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has, or plans to in the near future, put forward very strong candidates for this seat and I urge you to act quickly to appoint one of these candidates to the at-large seat. Thank you for your attention to this urgent request. Please contact my Washington, D.C. office at 202-224-6542 with any questions.

 

     Sincerely,

     Charles E. Schumer

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