New fluke regs bring criticism

Staff report

Wantagh, L.I. – Fluke season got off to a frustrating start this
month as anglers returned scores of undersized fish following a
size limit increase from 17.5 to 18 inches.

DEC officials announced the move – which also included a
four-fish limit, down from the previous five fish – shortly before
the season kickoff May 6.

Anglers, bait and tackle businesses, party and charter operators
and others in the industry were baffled by the move.

“The size limit on fluke was too high to begin with,” said Bobby
Turturello of Causeway Bait and Tackle in Wantagh. “There are
plenty of fluke out there, but there just aren’t that many big

Turturello said many fluke caught run just under the 18-inch
limit, and closer to 17. “Some guys will go a whole year without
being able to keep one,” he predicted.

DEC officials said the fluke regulations for the May 6-Sept. 12
season were altered as part of the state’s participation in the
cooperative management of migratory marine species under the
Interstate Fishery Management Program of the Atlantic States Marine
Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). ASMFC adopts interstate fisheries
plans for individual species and assigns each state an annual
harvest target or quota.

New York’s projected fluke harvest for 2006 exceeds the state’s
assigned quota by 26 percent, and the regulations changes will
achieve a 26 percent reduction in that projected harvest, officials
said, to keep New York in compliance with the fisheries management

Turturello says he’s not sure how the Long Island fishing
industry will be affected by the fluke regulations changes. “We’ll
find out,” he said.

Gary Gunseich of the Silly Lily fishing station, a boat rental
center in East Moriches, said he’s not as upset with the fluke
changes as he is with a previous move to closing the flounder
season in June.

“I can live with the extra half inch, and the four-fish limit
isn’t going to kill us,” Gunseich said of the fluke regulations.
“I’m more upset with them closing the flounder season in June. That
was our month to catch fish. I could have lived with two weeks, but
they closed it for the entire month.”

New York officials, however, said they’re essentially forced to
abide by ASMFC’s fisheries management plans or face a complete
prohibition on fishing for the species involved.

The regulations may be especially tough on party boat operators
who target fluke. Whether customers will pay for what may be a
long-shot crack at bringing back a legal-sized fluke remains to be

The regulations also were altered for porgy and monkfish. Porgy
season was set to run from June 1 through Oct. 31 – a month earlier
than previously – while the minimum length for monkfish was set at
17 inches, with a tail length of 11 inches. That was previously 21
inches, with a 14-inch tail length.

The changes to the FMP for porgy allow for expansion of the
recreational fishing season for the species, officials said.

The change in the monkfish size limit was made to achieve
consistency with federal regulations, officials said. Under the
prior size limit, New York foodfish dealers were unable to take in
product from neighboring states where the size limit was lower.

In addition, fishermen with federal permits could not land
monkfish in New York if the fish were under New York’s size limit,
even though the fish were taken legally from adjacent federal
Exclusive Economic Zone waters (3-200 miles offshore) in accordance
with the federal size limit.

For additional information on the regulations, contact DEC’s
Marine Resources Division at (631) 444-0435. Marine fishing
regulations can be viewed on the DEC Web site at:

The emergency rule will expire on July 24. DEC is proposing to
adopt the emergency rule as a permanent rule and public comments
may be submitted through July 3 in writing to: Fishing Regulations,
NYSDEC Marine Resources, 205 N Belle Mead Rd, Ste 1, E Setauket, NY
11733-3400; or by email at

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