The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has notified State-licensed commercial fishermen that New York State’s marine waters will be temporarily closed to commercial summer flounder (fluke) harvest and landings as of 12:00 a.m. on Sept. 15.
DEC’s Division of Marine Resources reports that internal landings and projections for Quota Period 5 (Aug. 1 – Sept. 30) show that at the current rate of harvest, New York’s commercial fishermen will exceed the pounds available for Period 5, requiring a closure to prevent impacts to fishermen harvesting summer flounder later in the year and/or to prevent the State from overharvesting its 2018 federal allocation. The commercial summer flounder fishery will reopen on Oct. 1 as planned.
Period closures are routine mechanisms that prevent the overharvest of quota managed species. When commercial harvest landings are projected to exceed harvest allocations for a period, a period closure becomes necessary. New York State’s commercial summer flounder allocation, as established in federal regulations, is not large enough to support fishing capacity, requiring these closures to prevent overharvest. The State is currently pursuing a larger commercial summer flounder allocation through the interstate fisheries management process and has also filed a petition with the federal government on this issue.
In March, Governor Cuomo and the Attorney General’s office jointly filed a petition with the federal government demanding that New York’s commercial fluke allocation be increased because the current allocations are unfair to New York, not based on current data, and violate the Magnuson-Stevens Act. If the federal government does not make the change to a more equitable distribution of quotas, the state will pursue all available legal options to obtain an equitable share of the fishery.
DEC is taking this temporary closure action pursuant to the quota distribution schedule