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For Release: Friday, May 7, 2021

Statement from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos

DEC continues to fight for the rights of New York's commercial black sea bass fishing industry and for an equitable share of the Atlantic coast's black sea bass harvest. Today DEC won an appeal to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission regarding a February 2021 Black Sea Bass Management Board decision that made changes to the state commercial allocations. In the appeal, DEC successfully argued that the changes were not fair to New York and did not reflect the abundant black sea bass fishery in New York State's waters of Long Island Sound. The earlier decision by the Black Sea Bass Management Board would have resulted in unfair impacts to the State's commercial fishing industry and limited its ability to utilize an abundant inshore resource. DEC looks forward to working with the Black Sea Bass Management Board later this year to finalize new allocations and will continue to advocate for the just treatment of New York's fishing industry while ensuring our fishery resources are protected.

Commercial state allocations were established in 2003 based upon landings data from 1980-2001. Since this period, the fishery has changed drastically with the black sea bass population increasing in abundance in the northern part of its range and expanding into new areas where they were previously rare. In particular, after 2010, black sea bass have become very abundant in Long Island Sound and is now a new staple commercial species there. A significant proportion of these changes were attributed to climate change by several different scientific investigations. This increase in availability to the commercial fishing industry has made management for states with small allocations like New York (seven percent of coastwide total) and Connecticut (one percent) difficult. In recent years, New York had to impose small daily trip limits and frequent unplanned commercial closures to control harvest and limit the state's fishing industry to our annual allocation. In comparison, New York's neighbors (NJ 20 percent) (RI 11 percent) (MA 13 percent) all have much greater historical access to commercial black sea bass quota.

Under pressure from northern states, the Board reviewed and revised commercial state allocations for black sea bass to address the climate-driven population changes. The Board acknowledged the significant change in the Long Island Sound and the difficulties it created for fisheries there and voted to give the State of Connecticut an additional two percent to its commercial allocation. New York requested identical consideration due to the shared nature of Long Island Sound and similar fishery management difficulties and was denied. It is this decision New York State appealed. ASMFC's decision and DEC's appeal do not apply to New York's recreational fishery.

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