NY: Fluke regs loosened somewhat

But 20.5-inch minimum still frustrates anglers

East Setauket, N.Y. – New York’s revised summer flounder (fluke)
regulations will offer a longer season in 2011, as well as an
increase in the daily limit from two fish to three and a reduction
in the size minimum from 21 inches to 20.5.

But those alterations won’t be enough to appease shore-based
anglers and boaters who struggle to find keeper-sized fluke.

DEC officials announced the changes on the heels of a Marine
Resources Advisory Council vote to impose the 20.5-inch size
minimum, three-fish daily limit and a May 1-Sept. 30 season.

Last year’s season ran from May 15-Sept. 6.

“We know it’s going to be painful because the biggest chunk of
anglers won’t be happy about it,” said James Gilmore, chief of
DEC’s Bureau of Marine Resources. “There was a 19-inch, two-fish
option with an early June to mid-September season we thought was
the best option.”

Ultimately, the council sided with charter and party boat operators
who were pushing for the longest season possible.

The (party/charter boat) industry had the most influence on the
council and they went with the longer season,” Gilmore said.

Boat and shore-based anglers, however, are generally looking for a
lower size minimum, contending it’s difficult to find keeper-sized
fish without going several miles offshore.

“It’s a hot topic,” said Peter Haskell of Haskell’s Bait
& Tackle in East Quogue (Suffolk County). “Trying to find a
legal fish is certainly frustrating; a lot are just under the
limit.”

Haskell says some of his angling customers favor a slot limit of
some type, perhaps one where they can keep fish between 18 and 20
inches.

“I’m not a fisheries biologist, but maybe that (slot limit) would
allow anglers to hit a couple of 18-inch fish and go home and maybe
that will protect the stock,” he said. “How many 18-inch fluke are
we catching trying to get a legal-sized fish?”

DEC officials said the current stock assessment for fluke shows the
population “is nearly rebuilt, not overfished and not subject to
overfishing.”

New York state participates in the cooperative management of
migratory marine fisheries as a member of the Atlantic States
Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). ASMFC adopts Interstate
Fisheries Management Plans (FMPs) for the management and
conservation of quota-managed species along the Atlantic Coast.
Each member state of ASMFC must implement the provisions of the
FMPs for the species within its state waters. Failure to comply
with an FMP could trigger a prohibition on all fishing for the
species in the waters of the non-compliant state

Recent changes to the fluke FMP allow states to liberalize their
harvest of fluke.

“New York state has chosen to adopt new regulations that meet the
requirements of the FMP while providing greater fishing
opportunities for fluke this year,” DEC officials said in a news
release announcing the new regulations.

Haskell said a longer fluke fishing season is a “silver lining”
amid the regulations which are almost certain to spark complaints
among anglers who struggle to find keeper-sized fish.

“Probably the biggest heartache in the past and the number one
complaint we get is not being allowed to even go,” he said. “Then
people start pulling their boats from the water.”

A fluke fishing season extended through September allows anglers to
target that species before striped bass fishing kicks into high
gear in October, Haskell said.

The text of the new regulation was to be published in the State
Register on May 18 and is also available online at www.dec.ny.gov.
DEC will be accepting public comments on the new fluke regulation
through July 5.

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