New limitations imperil fish biz
Written by Tom Greenberg   
Friday, 16 April 2004 08:13
NEW LIMITATIONS IMPERIL FISH BIZ By KEN MORAN - NY Post:

April 4, 2004 -- THE new regulations for fluke and porgies that are being stuffed down the throats of New York anglers by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will have a rippling effect that will carry into the homes of thousands of New Yorkers.

As we told you a few weeks ago, the ASMFC and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council contend that New Yorkers overfished their 2003 allotment for porgies and fluke by 100 percent. Since then there have a been a number of public hearings, most of which turned into shouting matches by angry charter- and party-boat captains who are looking at a loss to their income of 30 percent and more.

New Yorkers maybe facing a season that runs from about the beginning of May until roughly the middle of September. There will be an 18-inch size limit with just three fish in possession. There is also a possibility that there will be no closed season with an 181/2-inch and three-fish bag limit.

What is even more upsetting is that no believes the figures the ASMFC is using. Capt. Mike Albronda, who is a charter-boat skipper from Montauk, says that last June practically the entire month was a wash due to rain - as we all remember quite well. Due to the lack of sailing time, he and most of the captains from the East End say their charters were way down, including those for fluke.

It was the same story all along the South Shore. So how could New York anglers have caught so many fluke, which at the time had a 17-inch size limit?

By the way, New Jersey is not facing any reduction in its fluke quotas. Does this mean that New York's anglers are that much better than those from New Jersey? They certainly don't have any more anglers than we do and have just as much coastline.

Michael Bacci, from Brooklyn, who fished on a regular basis most of last summer aboard the Sheepshead Bay party boat Sea Queen, says, "For days at a time no one caught a 17-inch keeper and that was for the whole boat. One of my friends didn't catch a keeper in five tries and the rest of the time we were lucky if one of us took one fish home. I only saw three fish 18 inches or better all season."

There are some who feel the reduction in porgies - 20 scup at 11 inches down from 50 fish at 10 inches - is even more devastating to some party-boat owners. Late summer and fall, porgy fishing in places like Montauk and Sheepshead Bay draws thousands of anglers. Will anglers be willing to travel to Montauk to catch just 20 porgies?

Capt. Fred Bird of the Montauk open boat Flying Cloud doesn't believe so. I'm told, through other anglers from the East End, that the skipper feels his business, which sees a large income from scup fishermen, will sink with Davey Jones locker. There are so many porgies around, that an angler could catch 20 scup in a half hour. That would not be worth the ride to Montauk for most fishermen.

The party-boat business will be devastated by these regulations and many will go out of business. No fishing means no business in local tackle shops. No anglers means no one is buying rods and reels so companies such as Penn will be laying off people.

Bacci, 64, spends much of the summer on party boats and is afraid of the future. "What happens now to the recreational fisherman or the boat owners unless these laws are changed?" he said.

 
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