Editor’s Log: Regulatory Possibilities In The Pipeline - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: Regulatory Possibilities In The Pipeline

At the beginning of this saltwater season, you can expect there to be a few different changes on the regulations page on The Fisherman Magazine’s website and magazine for at least a few different species. The unfortunate news for some is that all of the regulations up for change are not moving in a more lenient direction. They will become tighter, whether it be season, bag, or size limit.

On a slightly different topic, before I go into detail on the potential regs, one thing we won’t have to keep track of come the new season is the possibility of a saltwater fishing license, which I discussed in the July issue of the magazine. The campaign for the license was suspended by the NYSDEC earlier this year due to the lack of public interest in the potential of having one, gauged by the public survey they put out during the month of September. The final nail in the coffin seemed to be the rallying of the local politicians across Long Island who were in opposition to the implication of a fee-based saltwater license. Support grew and letters were sent to Albany from individuals from across the island representing different towns and counties, which in turn seemed to lead to the immediate end of the licensing efforts on the state’s part for now.

Switching gears again to the regulatory part of this editorial, a few meetings were held within the last month that covered potential regulation options for striped bass, fluke, porgies, and sea bass. I’ll break it down by each species and their potential options for ’24.

Striped Bass

Back in the summer, the ASMFC striper board called for an emergency regulation to be put in effect that shrunk the striper slot from 28 to 35 inches to 28 to 31 inches. The individual states have about a month to implement the new regulation, which New York did within the grace period allowed. A public meeting was held on December 4th at the Kings Park DEC headquarters to gather public comment on the topic. The most popular option among the attendees at the meeting (mostly for-hire captains) was option C, which would call for a split mode — 28 to 31 inches for private anglers and 28 to 33 inches for the party and charter boats at one fish per person. The 2-inch difference between the groups only accounted for an extra .1% reduction, which would still fall under the acceptable reduction requirements. On January 9th, a Marine Resource Advisory Council (MRAC) meeting was held, and the council came to an agreement that option C would be the one sent to the ASMFC commission for approval, so more to come on that final ruling.

Fluke (Summer Flounder)

What might be the most controversial potential regulation might just be what fluke ends up being for this upcoming season. The species will wind up seeing a huge 28% reduction in the recreational quota for the year. The outcome of that 28% was broken down into six different options presented to MRAC. Option one would be a May 1st to September 8th season with a three fish bag and 19-inch limit; option two calls for a May 4th to September 15th season with the three fish bag and 19-inch size; option 3 pulls the season up to May 17th through September 20th with the three fish bag and 19-inch limit, the fourth option is a bit different and looks at the slit season option of May 1st through July 24th closing until August 4th and then running through October 9th with the same three fish bag and 19-inch limit. The fifth option would be the longest season from April 1st through October 31st with an increased bag to 4 fish but also an increased size limit to 19.5 inches. To round out the options, number 6 would be a June 12th through August 28th season with a three-fish bag and an 18.5-inch size limit. Some of the chatter within the industry, both for hire and tackle shops, have hinted that option five was a favorite due to the fact that it would give recreational anglers the greatest amount of targetable fluke days. Option 3 also saw some support as well.

Porgy (Scup)

Porgies will be seeing another reduction at a significantly less 10% in comparison to fluke, but nonetheless, it will be a reduction. The porgy regulations are split into three different sections: shore, party/charter, and all others, along with the potential for changing bag limits and size limits throughout the year. They’re also presented with three different options. It could be quite confusing, so take a look at the chart below for a better visual representation of them.

It should be noted that sea bass was also on the agenda. Regulations will remain the same for them at 16-1/2 inches with the same bag limits and season in 2023. There’s nothing to get excited about, but nothing worse, either.

A public survey was sent out during the last half of January by the DEC for public input on these regulations and was shared on The Fisherman Magazine’s weekly enews. Hopefully, you were able to voice your opinion on the matter so that the DEC will be able to take it into consideration going forward. Another meeting will be held at the beginning of February to hopefully narrow the options down. Either way, the chips will fall differently this year. We’ll just have to see where they land in the coming weeks/month.

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