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Marine Fisheries Issues

Recreational Winter Flounder Regulations - Public Information Meeting

The DEC will hold a public information meeting on Thursday, February 26, 2015 starting at 6:30 pm at the Marine Resources Headquarters at 205 Belle Mead Road, East Setauket to gather input from the marine fishing community on the proposed rulemaking Regulations Governing the Recreational Harvest of Winter Flounder published in the NYS Register on January 28, 2015 (Department of State website). Comments may be mailed to Stephen Heins at the address in the right hand column or via email at fwmarine@gw.dec.state.ny.us with the subject "winter flounder regulations".

DEC has proposed a rule that will extend the recreational fishing season for winter flounder from the current 60 day season, April 1-May 30 to a 306 day season, March 1 - December 31. Many member states of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission have already adopted this extended season. This proposed rule may increase opportunities for marine recreational anglers and associated business. The current size limit of 12 inches and possession limit of two fish will not change. Possible negative impacts of this proposed rule include increased fishing pressure on inshore stocks of winter flounder.

Notice of Intent to Develop Guidelines for Safely Deterring Marine Mammals

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is responsible for protecting marine mammals in US federal and state waters as mandated under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. NMFS is also responsible for maintaining sustainable fisheries and other legal human activities in areas where marine mammals may be found. The Marine Mammal Protection Act includes a deterrence provision, which allows efforts to deter marine mammals from damaging property or causing a threat to personal safety. These measures are only allowed if they are not determined to be expected to result in serious injury or death of marine mammals. NMFS is currently seeking input to develop national guidelines to safely deter marine mammals under their jurisdiction from impacting fishing and other human activities.

Input on which deterrents should be considered will be accepted during the 30 day comment period, which ends January 15, 2015. Comments may be submitted electronically (leaving DEC's website). Information about other means of submission as well as details about the types of deterrents that will be considered can be found in the Federal Register (leaving DEC's website).

Whelk, Horseshoe Crab, and Crab Rule Makings in Development

DEC is currently preparing to propose a rule making that will change the regulations for whelk, horseshoe crabs, and crabs. This multi-species rule making, an omnibus rule making, may affect many licensed fishermen. Before proceeding with the rule making, DEC will first provide information describing the need for these new regulations and what the regulations will do.

In the column to the right, under Important Links, there is a scoping document which provides more detailed information abut the need for these changes to the regulations.

Whelks

whelks for sale in the Fulton Fish Market
These channeled whelk were available for
sale at the Fulton Fish Market.
1. Whelk Reporting
. DEC is proposing that all whelk permit holders submit trip reports detailing all species landed and other fishing activities. Harvest reporting is necessary to determine the impact of the fishery on the whelk population. Fishing effort on whelk has increased due to increased market value and the decline of the Southern New England lobster population. In 2012, whelk was the tenth most valuable fishery in New York. It is critical for the maintenance of a sustainable whelk fishery that DEC collects and processes complete whelk landings information.

2. Whelk Minimum Size. DEC is proposing a minimum size limit of 5-1/2 inch length or 3 inch width on the harvest of channeled and knobbed whelks. Channeled and knobbed whelks are long lived and slow to mature. Currently there is no minimum size limit on whelks to prevent the harvest of immature animals. Local channel whelk have been collected and examined. The data collected indicate that female whelks do not begin to mature until they are 5-1/2 to 6 inches in length (or 3 to 3.3 inches in width).

Horseshoe Crabs

horseshoe crab native to New York waters
Horseshoe crabs native to New York may be
impacted by the introduction of the Asian horseshoe
crab into local waters.
Asian horseshoe crabs.
DEC is proposing to prohibit the importation, possession and use of Asian horseshoe crabs as bait. Asian horseshoe crabs have been imported for use as bait and there is concern about the possible introduction of pathogens and invasive species that could impact New York's native horseshoe crab population and other native species. In addition, there is concern about the use of horseshoe crabs that could have the neurotoxin tetrodotoxin (TTX). The potential for TTX accumulating in the body tissues of local whelks and American eels and any subsequent threat to human health have not been determined yet.

Crabs and Terrapins

crab trap with two terrapin exclusion devices
This crab trap has two terrapin exclusion
devices to prevent terrapin from entering the
trap, becoming unable to escape, and
drowning.
Terrapin excluder device.
DEC is proposing to require the use of terrapin excluder devices on crab traps set in New York's estuaries in the Marine District. Terrapin excluder device is a rectangular device which decreases the opening of the entrance to crab traps and makes it more difficult for terrapin to enter the traps looking for food, thus preventing their drowning.

Crustaceans

Release of live out-of-state crustaceans. DEC proposes to prohibit the release of any live crustaceans that were not harvested from New York's waters. Crustaceans harvested in other areas are often marketed live in New York and are sometimes intentionally released into New York's waters. These animals may harbor pathogens not native to our local stock or carry other hitchhiker organisms which may become invasive in our waters. In addition, any introduced non-indigenous species may be ecologically harmful to our local marine communities.