Late last week, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. sent a letter to the Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Council outlining his concern over a proposed 43-percent reduction in summer flounder harvest for 2016.
“The implications and economic tragedies resulting from such a reduction will have resounding negative consequences on the entire East Coast,” he said.
According to Mr. Thiele, recent federal stock assessments for summer flounder have overestimated recruitment, underestimated fishing mortality and overestimated the size of stocks. As a result, the Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Council is proposing to drop annual summer flounder catch by 43-percent in an effort to protect the summer flounder population.
In a press release issued last week, the Assemblyman blameed in infrequent, inconsistent, and poor quality data for these inaccurate estimates.
“If management decisions are being based on reduced data, how can we have any confidence in our decisions,” he asked.
Mr Thiele said if a 2014 summer flounder stock assessment was conducted, which wasn’t due to a lack of federal resources, fisheries managers would have had greater insights into status of the fishery. Perhaps then, more gradual reductions could have been suggested and implemented over the course of a few years, as opposed to one, he said.
“The commercial fishing industry is part of the historic, cultural, and economic fabric of the East End,” said Mr. Thiele. “We must do everything we can to minimize and carefully balance the impacts on both summer flounder and the fishing
In 2015, he introduced legislation, A.4261/S.2930, which directs the State Attorney General to commence legal proceedings against the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service challenging New York State’s quota allocation system because the fishing quotas created are based on old, incomplete and faulty information and data.
In 2015 Mr. Thiele also sponsored legislation would establish a small business commercial fishing industry advocate and create a small business commercial fishing economic development program in the State of New York. The bill passed both houses of the legislature and will soon be before Governor Andrew Cuomo for consideration.