Fluke anglers happy with half-inch break

East Setauket, N.Y. — Saltwater anglers have welcomed slightly loosened regulations on New York’s summer flounder (fluke) fishing.

Under “emergency” regulations put in place heading into the fluke season opener May 1, the minimum size limit for fluke was reduced from 19.5 inches to 19 inches.

That’s somewhat good news for anglers, particularly inshore fishermen who have complained of the difficulty in finding a keeper fluke.

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said the change “is good news for New York anglers and the saltwater fishing industry who have been shortchanged for many years by an inadequate quota relative to the size of the fishery in New York. These are the same anglers who are struggling to get back on their feet after the impacts of Hurricane Sandy.”

The regulations changes also include a fluke season shortened by one day, with the May 1 opener and the season close of Sept. 29 instead of the previous Sept. 30.

The four-fish daily limit remains unchanged.

The regulations changes are necessary for New York to remain in compliance with the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for summer flounder, scup and black sea bass.

New York was facing a shorter season or increased size limits for 2013 due to federal catch data for 2012. But DEC worked with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in January to avoid those restrictions.

Several of East Coast states underharvested their quotas in 2012, which allow anglers to catch more fish in 2013.

Through a change proposed by DEC officials to the ASMFC Fisheries Management Plan, those states agreed to share some of their unharvested fish quotas with New York and New Jersey in 2013. The change was approved by the ASMFC Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Board recently.

“DEC’s marine resources staff worked relentlessly through size limit and harvest season changes with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission,,” Martens said. “We’ll  work with a subcommittee of key states and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to find a long-term solution to the inequity New York fishermen have faced for over a decade with fluke management.”

In addition to the fluke regulations changes, black sea bass regs have been tightened and scup (porgy) fishing rules have been loosened this season.

The black sea bass season was shortened, with a July 10 opening date, instead of the previous June 14 kickoff. The season runs through Dec. 31.

While the minimum size remains at 13 inches for black sea bass, the daily limit has been slashed from 15 down to 8.

“These limits are better than previously thought, since all states were originally required to take a 32-percent reduction in 2013 harvest but an analysis of new data showed that only a 24 percent reduction is needed,” DEC officials said.

For scup (porgy), the minimum size has been trimmed from 10.5 to 10 inches and the daily limit boosted from 20 to 30 fish. The season will remain unchanged, running from May 1-Dec. 31.

Party and charter boat anglers will see the minimum size cut from 11 to 10 inches. The daily creel limit has also been boosted – from 20 to 30 fish during the May 1-Aug. 31 season; from 40 to 45 fish between Sept. 1 and Oct. 31, and from 20 to 30 fish from Nov. 1-Dec. 31.

Comments on the regulations changes will be accepted through July 28 and can be sent to: Stephen Heins, NYSDEC, 205 North Belle Mead Road, Suite 1, East Setauket, NY 11733 or by email to: fwmarine@gw.dec.state.ny.us. If sending comments via email, use the subject line, “Comments on Proposed Rulemaking Part 40, Marine Fish – Summer Flounder, Scup, Black Sea Bass.”

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