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For Release: Wednesday, August 15, 2012

DEC Announces Changes to Recreational and Commercial Blackfish Fishing Regulations

New Rules will Reduce Exploitation by Nearly 40 Percent

New recreational and commercial fishing rules for blackfish (tautog) have been formally adopted, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. These rules have been in place since May 5, 2012. These changes are necessary to comply with interstate management measures to assist in rebuilding blackfish populations. These changes are a revision of regulations that were originally put in place on December 30, 2011.

  • Recreational: The season has been shortened by 115 days and now runs from October 5 to December 14. 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 because 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.

For more information about the Interstate Fishery Management Program, visit the website of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (links listed in the right column.)

Anglers are reminded that 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. These no-fee registrations must be renewed annually, so now is the time to get your 2012 registration. To register, anglers can go to any sporting license-issuing agent, buying sporting license web page on DEC's website, or by telephone: 1-86-NY-DECALS (1-866-933-2257).