Over the course of the past year, I’ve been bombarded by folks calling, complaining and asking what I’m going to do about a host of regulatory, access and enforcement issues. Myself, New Jersey editor Jim Hutchinson and New England editor Toby Lapinski do the best we can to respond to as many of these issues as possible but we can’t do it all ourselves. I’ve been asked to solve or do something about “unfair” fluke, flounder and blackfish regulations; stopping the use of gillnets as haul seines from East End beaches; stopping the wonton abuse of the striped bass tag system; why can commercial rod and reelers keep the 14 to 18-inch fluke we have to keep putting back; why can’t we have 4×4 access to West End Jones Beach; the elimination of a parking area in the back of Mt. Sinai Harbor; why isn’t the Demo Bar or Gilgo open to 4x4s; why isn’t there 24 hour access to the Captree ramp; draggers leaving hundreds of dead stripers in their wake as bycatch; the reconstruction of the Pt. Lookout jetties is ruining them for fishing; why is there no night fishing access at Orient Pt. State Park; why can’t you wear waders in Connetquot State Park; why is there no direct access to Burma Road from the hard top; why can’t we have access through Cupsogue pavilion area to inlet in fall; why can’t Green Island be used for duck hunting access; we need night access to Green Island and Field 10 Jones Beach piers during herring season and the list goes on and on. And I would be remiss to overlook the hundreds of beach closure complaints during plover season, as well as the many complaints from those witnessing illegal fishing taking place.
Many of these issues have been addressed in editorials and articles, brought to the attention of people in various state, county and federal agencies. We’ve met and sought support from county legislators, members of the state assembly and senate as well as Congress and the U.S. Senate. We’ve made numerous appearances at public hearings and we do our best to make the fishing public aware of the issues, while urging them to get involved.
The unfortunate part of all this is that most of those who do the complaining seem to think we are the last stop, or they complain to the choir on social media. What we really need to get things done is to bring those complaints directly to the source. You need to follow up those calls to me with calls and emails to state park headquarters in Babylon, county park headquarters in West Sayville, National Seashore offices in Patchogue and Breezy Point, and if it is a local issue, your town supervisor. If your complaints fall on deaf ears go to your county legislator, state senator and state assemblyman. Senators and assemblymen can take your complaints to Albany where final decisions on policy changes are often made. How about stopping into the office of your county or state representative and letting them know your concerns? Or bringing along 10 or 15 other members of your fishing club? Don’t you think that might get their attention?
Some of these issues may seem small in the overall scheme of things, but if enough people complain about something, it can initiate change. At the other extreme are issues like the 30 to 40 percent reduction in the recreational fluke harvest for 2017 which we have covered extensively online and in print (be sure to read the article in this month’s issue). People like Senator Chuck Schumer are already heavily involved in attempting to reverse this decision at the federal level, as is New York’s Department of Conservation. Emails and letters to Schumer expressing your support for what he is doing can help in his efforts to get the job done. You should let your feeling known to Michael Luisi, chairman of ASMFC’s Summer Flounder Management Board at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Service, 580 Taylor Ave, Building 2, Annapolis, MD 21401. As it stands now, we are looking at an increased size limit, reduced bag limit and shorter season that will eliminate at least May and September from the current season of May 17 to September 21.
This New Years, how about making a commitment to getting more involved. If it’s worth a call to me, it should be worth a call or visit to the people responsible. We will continue to lobby, complain and push for positive changes but we can’t do it all alone. Get involved!
While we do have a pipeline to some of those involved in decision making, as citizens of your state, county and country, so do you.