RFA News Alert: Governor Cuomo Extends Season Thru February
New York anglers will be allowed to fish for black sea bass again as of January 1, 2013.
In an official release from Governor Andrew Cuomo on December 26th, it was officially announced that the state has extended the season for recreational black sea bass fishing, originally scheduled to close on December 31, 2012. Fishing has been extended for 59 days by emergency regulation and will remain open through February 28, 2013.
“Effective immediately, anglers can enjoy black sea bass into the new year,” Governor Cuomo said. “Whether you are taking advantage of fishing on a charter boat or venturing on your own through the waters off of Long Island, the beginning of the winter months will be more welcome for those of us who enjoy our great natural resources and this recreational activity,” the governor added.
According to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) Commissioner Joe Martens, the DEC filed the emergency regulation to take effect immediately, “to ensure a seamless and uninterrupted continuation of the state’s recreational black sea bass fishing season into 2013.”
“New York fishermen have won another big victory thanks to Governor Cuomo’s decisive action to extend the recreational fishing season for black sea bass,” said Senator Lee M. Zeldin. “Our fishing community, especially our charter fishing boats and bait and tackle shops, were devastated by the effects of Super Storm Sandy. With the extension of the black sea bass season, some of their economic losses caused by Mother Nature can now start to be recouped.”
According to the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), this is excellent news for New York’s recreational fishing community and comes at an opportune time for local businesses. “Many of our for-hire captains and tackle shops have been stuck with very few options since Superstorm Sandy hit in late October, so this announcement is a welcome one for those looking to get back out on the water,” said RFA managing director Jim Hutchinson, Jr. who is also president of the New York Sportfishing Federation.
“The black sea bass stock is a healthy one, and having a January and February fishery will allow many of us in New York the chance to get back along the rail of some of our favorite party boats to hit the black sea bass grounds in federal waters and return to port with a few fish in the box,” Hutchinson said. “Our thanks to Governor Cuomo for his continued leadership, particularly following the storm, and also to Sen. Zeldin for once again championing New York saltwater fisheries in Albany.”
The NYDEC extended the season to coincide with regulations set by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The entities voted in December to open recreational harvest of black sea bass in federal waters in January and February, which hasn’t happened since 2009. For all recreational anglers fishing for black sea bass, the minimum size limit has been reduced to 12.5 inches, and the possession limit will remain at 15 fish.
On November 19th, RFA and the New York Sportfishing Federation joined with the New York Fishing Tackle Trades Association (NYFTTA) and New Jersey Marine Trades Association in a group letter asking that Governor Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie help take action both at the state and regional level to help ensure that the black sea bass fishery was again declared open and accessible to local anglers.
“The black sea bass fishery has been declared healthy and rebuilt by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) as of 2004, yet this fishery has been closed during January and February for the past several years,” the letter said, explaining that this vital stock is neither overfished nor is overfishing occurring.
In a November 15th letter to the MAFMC, RFA executive director Jim Donofrio asked council members to take the recreational fishing industry into account when considering the reopening of the January and February black sea bass fishery. “With federally permitted vessels allowed to once again ferry anglers back and forth to the sea bass grounds in January and February, we can ensure that our beleaguered sportfishing industry in particular sees a ray of economic hope in the near future,” Donofrio said.
RFA said there was more discussion by MAFMC members at the December meetings with regard to black sea bass and the federally required ‘annual catch limits’ and ‘accountability measures’ impacting overall quotas by the recreational fishing community. It’s likely that black sea bass regulations will change again along the coast prior to the start of the fishing season in the Spring/Summer of 2013, and New York anglers are advised to check DEC’s website (www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7894.html) regularly to stay abreast of any changes made to marine recreational fishing regulations.
DEC also reminds marine anglers to enroll in New York’s free recreational marine fishing registry (www.dec.ny.gov/permits/54950.html) before fishing. Those registered in 2012 must re-register at the start of 2013.