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For Release: Monday, January 9, 2012

DEC Announces Changes to Recreational and Commercial Blackfish Fishing Regulations

New Rules will Reduce Blackfish Exploitation by over 50 Percent

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has set new recreational and commercial fishing rules for blackfish (tautog) beginning immediately. These emergency changes are necessary to comply with interstate management measures to assist in rebuilding blackfish populations.

  • Recreational: The season has been shortened by 70 days and now runs from October 8 to December 4. In addition, the minimum size limit has been increased by 2 inches to 16 inches total length. The possession limit of four fish per day remains unchanged.
  • Commercial: The minimum size limit has been increased by 1 inch to 15 inches total length. The season and trip limits for the commercial harvest of blackfish will not change in 2012.

DEC worked with recreational and commercial fishing representatives to establish seasons and catch limits that allow as many fishing opportunities as possible while still providing the protections needed to restore local blackfish populations.

As a member of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), New York is required to develop recreational and commercial fishing limits that prevent New York state fishers from harvesting more blackfish than the population can sustain. The ASMFC mandated that most of its member states, including New York, significantly reduce their harvest of blackfish since the population was at a low level. DEC held a public meeting and also worked with its Marine Resources Advisory Council - made up of representatives from many aspects of the fishing community -to develop options that fulfilled its obligations to the ASMFC and distributed the burden of the harvest reduction as fairly as possible.

Changes to recreational and commercial seasons and catch limits were adopted as emergency regulations and are currently in effect. DEC is proposing to adopt the rules permanently, and public comments on the proposed permanent rulemaking may be submitted by email no later than March 5, 2012 with the subject line "2012 Blackfish." Comments can also be sent to Stephen W. Heins, NYSDEC Marine Resources, 205 Belle Mead Road, Suite 1, East Setauket, NY 11733.

A Recreational Marine Fishing Registration is needed to fish in the saltwaters of the state and for anadromous fish in all waters of the state. There is no fee to register, but anglers must renew their registration annually. To register, anglers can go to any sporting license-issuing agent, DEC's website How to Purchase a Sporting License or call: 1-86-NY-DECALS (1-866-933-2257).

For more information about the Interstate Fishery Management Program, visit the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission website which can be found in the right hand column of this page at www.asmfc.org, and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council website which also can be found in the right hand column of this page at www.mafmc.org.