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Anglers and Bait Shop Owners Have Mixed Feelings Over New Fishing Regs

Looser restrictions mean more and bigger fish for anglers.

Ask the average fisherman and he’ll tell you that the less restriction on fishing the better. More fish, bigger fish and a longer season means more fun out on the water. Just this month, the New York State Department of Conservation loosened restrictions on fluke, porgy and black sea bass, meaning that the agency thinks the populations of those species are healthy and plentiful.

“These regulation changes reflect improvements to populations of scup [porgy], black sea bass and summer flounder [fluke],” said Kathy Moser, DEC Assistant Commissioner for Natural Resources, in a statement announcing the expansion.

Moser pointed to porgy – a popular game fish among kids and adults – as being particularly robust.

Fishermen and bait and tackle shop business owners have been at odds with the DEC for years over ever-tightening legal limits of fish species and shortening of the seasons.

, an East Setauket resident for more then 20 years, has his opinions on how the DEC comes to its conclusions.

“The setting of fish harvesting quotas has a lot of research that goes into it, however it probably has its flaws with respect to data collection,” he said in an email to Patch.

While scientists understand certain factors that affect population like reproduction cycles, water conditions, availability of food, and mortality rates, he said the part of the research that collects data from small samples and from fisherman who have reporting bias can be imperfect.

“I think this is where you get all the debate,” Huner said.

Last year, . While bait and tackle shop owners were happy about the decision because it meant more business, there were some who said that it was too late to really take advantage of it.

“It’s hard to get the word out to the people who mainly rent my boats,” Candy Caraftis, owner of in Port Jefferson, .

She also said that extending the season into December was unnecessary since most recreational fisherman are out of the water by November.

This year, the regulations were announced early in the season, ample time for both anglers and business owners to prepare for the extended season. Porgy and fluke fishing has already started and with looser regulations, there’s sure to be more fish hauled in.

Stan Hentschel from has been in business for 37 years. He’s seen it all when it comes to fishing on the North Shore and remembers when there were more places to access the water from the shoreline. Residential development has limited where people can fish over the years as the DEC has tightened how many fish anglers can take from the water. He welcomes the new regulations but said with the DEC, you win some and you lose some.

“Of course it will help, but, it doesn't conform to surrounding state's waters,” he said. “Also, they closed black fish for the spring season. Give us something then take away something else.”

No matter what, the sheer number of fisherman on the water, taking up to the daily limit will have an impact on wildlife, according to Huner.

“Just think about the impact that the fisherman fishing for fluke off of Mount Sinai Harbor and Port Jeff Harbor have on the local fluke populations. It looks like a parking lot sometimes,” he said. “You could see how devastating it could be, particularly with the pure bait fishermen that gut hook a lot of fish.”

, a technique where an angler can safely let a fish go back into the water after hooking it the proper way.

“Consider it a contribution to the conservation and preservation of fish stocks,” he said. “Resources don't last forever.”

Despite his misgivings about some of the data collection and fear of the danger of overfishing, Huner said that he’s happy about the new regulations.

“People better than us in the scientific community think we can afford to keep more fish,” he said.

He says he’s also seen a lot of fish on the water.

“Over the years from what I have seen out there on the water, there is so much life in the water,” he said. “Every species I go after seems to be plentiful.”

Caraftis agrees.

“Should be an awesome year,” she said.

Remember, starting January 1, 2012, anglers must enroll in the 2012 annual no-fee recreational marine fishing registry before going saltwater fishing. Registration for 2012 is valid through December 31, 2012.

2012 New York State Marine Recreational Fishing Limits

Effective Date for Regulations: April 17, 2012

Species Size Limits
(Total Length in Inches) Daily Possession Limits
(Number of Fish) Open Seasons Summer flounder (fluke) 19.5 4 May 1 - Sept 30 Winter flounder 12 2 April 1 - May 30 Tautog (blackfish) 16 4 Oct 8 - Dec 4 Bluefish (including "snappers") No minimum size for first 10 fish
12 TL for the next 5 15
No more than 10 of which shall be less than 12" TL All year Weakfish 16
10 filleted
12 dressed 1 All year Atlantic cod* 22 10* All year Pollock 19 No limit All year Haddock 18 No limit All year Striped bass: marine waters**
Anglers aboard licensed party/charter boats 28 2*** Apr 15 - Dec 15 Striped bass: marine waters**
All other anglers 28 - 40
>40 1
1 Apr 15 - Dec 15 Striped bass: Hudson River north of George Washington Bridge 18 1 Mar 16 - Nov 30 Red drum No minimum size No limit for fish less than 27" TL.
Fish greater than 27" shall not be possessed. All year Spanish mackerel 14 15 All year King mackerel 23 3 All year Cobia 37 2 All year Atlantic sturgeon Moratorium Moratorium Moratorium Black Sea Bass 13 15 June 15 - Dec 31 Scup (Porgy)
Anglers aboard licensed party/charter boats 11 20
40***

20 May 1 - Aug 31
Sept 1 - Oct 31***

Nov 1 - Dec 31 Scup (Porgy)
All other anglers 10.5 20 May 1 - Dec 31 American eel 6 50 All year Monkfish (goose fish) 17
11 tail length Any number All year American Shad Possession Prohibited Possession Prohibited Possession Prohibited Hickory Shad No size limit 5 All year Yellowtail flounder 13 No limit All year Oyster toadfish 10 3 July 16 - May 14 Horseshoe crabs No size limit 5 All year Blue Crab+
Hard Shell
Soft Shell
Peeler/Shedder++ 4 1/2"
3 1/2"
3" 50 All year All Other Crabs+ No size limit 50 All year American lobster+ (Recreational permit required) 3 3/8" minimum carapace length 51/4" maximum carapace length 6 All year

*Anglers on board federally permitted party or charter vessels may possess any number of Atlantic cod, consistent with federal rules.

** Marine waters -- South of George Washington Bridge

*** The customer of any party/charter boat who takes more than 10 scup from Sept 7 - Oct 11 or takes two striped bass from Apr 15 - Dec 15 must possess an original dated receipt from the licensed vessel.

+ Lobsters and crabs in spawn (eggs visible thereon) may not be taken or possessed.

++ Peeler or shedder crabs are hard blue crabs which have a fully formed soft shell beneath the hard outer shell and the impending shedding process is evidenced by the white sign along the outer rim of the paddle-like appendages on the crab's fifth pair of legs.

Source: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

nanci huner May 18, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Great article. Good information.... Will follow the story
peter May 20, 2012 at 09:36 AM
Very well written i must say...

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