SCHUMER: “ANY DECISION ON BLUEFISH FISHING SEASON MUST BE BASED ON MOST UP-TO-DATE SCIENCE, PERIOD;” SENATOR URGES NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION TO IMMEDIATELY REEXAMINE DATA USED FOR 2015 RECREATIONAL SEASON; POOR DATA USED BY NMFS COULD UNFAIRLY AND PREMATURELY CLOSE BLUEFISH SEASON, HURTING LI COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN
NOAA’s National Marines Fisheries Service Concluded That Bluefish 2015 Quota Has Been Reached for First Time in 8 Years; Conclusion Spells Trouble For LI Commercial Fishermen
Schumer Says NOAA Must Immediately Reexamine Questionable and Unreliable Data, And to Consider Most Recent Science & Available Data To Prevent Fishery From Closing
Calling the data “out-of-date and not the best science available,” U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to reexamine the data used for the 2015 recreational bluefish season, which may trigger the premature closing of the commercial bluefish season. Recently, the National Marines Fisheries Service (NMFS) concluded that, for the first time in 8 years, the Atlantic Coast States reached their bluefish quota for 2015, which places the New York commercial bluefish fishery at risk of immediate closure. Schumer requested that the NOAA use all available data to determine if the 2015 quota was truly reached, and to not rely solely on inaccurate and questionable data for this decision.
“When it comes to making decisions on the bluefish fishing season, NOAA needs to be sure their data is accurate before they pull the hook on the bluefish fishery —anything less is unacceptable and will unfairly hurt Long Island’s bluefish boats,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “That’s why I am urging NOAA to reexamine the data used to reach a decision on the bluefish. If it is discovered that the 2015 quota was under-harvested, we want that applied to this year’s quota ASAP.”
The Senator’s Letter to NOAA Administrator, Kathryn Sullivan appears below:
Dear Administrator Sullivan:
In light of well-founded concerns that the best data and most up-to-date science have not been employed in assessing the bluefish quotas, I write today to urge the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to reexamine the data used for the 2015 recreational bluefish season. And, if it is discovered that the quota was under-harvested, to apply that quota to the 2016 commercial bluefish quota as has been done in previous years. As you aware, our coastal fishing communities around the Northeast including New York State rely on bluefish to support their livelihoods. Any decisions made in regards to the bluefish quotas that are based on questionable and unreliable data should be reexamined immediately due to the large and immediate impact these decision could have on both commercial fishermen and the shore side businesses that rely on these fish.
As you know, The Bluefish Fishery Management Plan divides the coast-wide catch between recreational and commercial, allows the interstate transfer of commercial quota and allows the states to transfer any recreational under harvest to beef up their commercial quota. According to NOAA’s proposed 2016 Bluefish State Commercial Quotas rule, New York State is allowed to catch 10.3 percent of the fishery stock which is equivalent of 343,486 pounds. In recent years, recreational fishermen have not harvested all of their allocation and the rest of their quota has been moved to the commercial side. Recently, it has come to my attention that using what many stakeholders believe is questionable and inaccurate data, NOAA’s National Marines Fisheries Service (NMFS) has come to the conclusion that for the first time in 8 years, the Atlantic Coast States reached their quota for 2015. Because of this finding, the New York commercial fishery could be closed imminently. It is imperative to our local fisherman that this possibly flawed data be reviewed as soon as possible to ensure that there is indeed no leftover quota from last year’s recreational bluefish season. If this inaccurate and questionable science is not reviewed as soon as possible, it could land a devastating blow to our already struggling fishermen, who deal with low quotas on many other fishery stocks.
Bluefish fishing is not only a part of the cultural heritage for commercial fisherman of the eastern United States, it provides a valuable fishery which helps to sustain their livelihoods. This is why it is essential to use all available data when making quota distribution decisions, as it ensures that the best and most up to date science is being used. It is my understanding that NMFS’s came to its conclusion using a small sample of Marine Recreation Information Program (MRIP) data which stands in stark contrast to New York States’ vessel trip report (VTR) data. I urge you to reconsider looking at all of the available data because cutting off our fisherman from catching Bluefish based on inaccurate and faulty data, which would not only hurt our local fishermen, but also the myriad of shore side businesses that depend on bluefish.
Again, I urge NOAA to reexamine all of the available data to decide whether there was any unused quota from the 2015 Bluefish recreational allotment and if so, to transfer the unused quota to the 2016 commercial quota as has been done in recent years. Thank you for your attention to this important request.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer
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