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Schumer and Grannis Fought for Larger Federal Quota After Previous Year's Fishing Season Contained Jolting Mid-Summer Break, Hammering the Whole Fishing Community

Schumer and Grannis Supporting NYS Lawsuit Against Federal Government Challenging Flawed, Imprecise Methods to Manage Fluke Populations

Schumer, Grannis: Longer Fluke Season is a Step in the Right Direction, But There is Still More To be Done To Improve LI Fishing and Protect Stocks

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis said that a longer fluke season will benefit  Long Island anglers this year. In 2009, due to a low fluke quota, the state implemented a midsummer break in the midst of the fluke season which damaged the recreational fishing industry on Long Island and hurt average fishing enthusiasts. But after Schumer and Grannis fought for a larger federal quota, the 2010 fluke season will now go from May to Labor Day with no interruptions.


"Extending the summer fluke fishing season is great news for Long Island fishing fans and I am pleased that the increase in federal quota allowed the DEC to take this important step. However, while this is a much needed boost for Long Island anglers this summer, we need to a full court press to change the federal rules to make sure our fishing community is protected for many summers to come. These arbitrary deadlines and statebystate management systems imposed on our fisheries are wreaking havoc on fishing communities that have been going strong for centuries. My legislation will build in some much needed flexibility to the outdated and arbitrary federal rules allowing our fisheries to rebuild and our fishing communities to thrive," said Senator Schumer.


"These are difficult times for New York's saltwater anglers and we know the struggles they have faced while adhering to restrictions imposed on our state by flawed federal data," Commissioner Grannis said. "Their cooperation has allowed the state to expand the fluke season this year."


Unlike 2009, the state has proposed a fluke season for this year that runs through Labor Day and that does not include a midsummer break. If approved by the state's Marine Resources Advisory Council at its March 16 meeting, the recreational season will run without interruption from May 15 through Sept. 6. The proposal also includes keeping the minimum size limit at 21 inches and the possession limit at two.


Last year, in order to comply with federal restrictions, New York adopted a recreational fluke season that included a twoweek break in July and concluded in midAugust. While these strict limits posed a hardship for anglers, the result was that New York did not exceed its harvest limit for the first time in six years. That fact, combined with a federal decision to increase the overall East Coast fluke quota, means that New York anglers will enjoy a significantly higher quota for 2010 449,000 fluke, or an increase of 23 percent over 2009.


Meanwhile, New York State continues its federal lawsuit challenging the methods and data used to manage coastal fluke populations. Both Schumer and Grannis have voiced their support for the lawsuit, which 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. In addition, Schumer and Grannis have advocated for proposed regulations to create a coastwide fluke management system. 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 statebystate quota system, New York is arbitrarily saddled with a disproportionate burden of the federal plan for the fluke's recovery. For instance, an angler on the New York side of Raritan Bay can land four fluke per day that must be at least 20.5 inches long while someone on the New Jersey side of the bay can land eight fish that only have to be 18 inches long.


Schumer will be meeting with the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in coming weeks to discuss the state by state fluke allocation system.


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