NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman joined Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday to call on the U.S. Department of Commerce to reassess regulations related to legal quotas of summer flounder.
The DOC's Fisher Management Plan sets the number of fish that may be caught and hauled to shore in a particular year. Schneiderman and Cuomo allege the data used to determine New York's share of the fishery are out of date and incomplete, hampering Long Island's fisherman and diminishing the industry's competitiveness with neighboring states that have higher allocations.
"Long Island's fishing industry is one of our state's proudest traditions, and a major source of jobs, income, and opportunity for people throughout the state," Schneiderman said. "The federal quotas create an unfair, competitive disadvantage that jeopardizes a vital industry. When I became attorney general, I committed to New Yorkers that I would fight for them. There should be one set of rules for everyone, and I will use every tool at my disposal to ensure an even playing field for our workers."
Because of current allocations, New York state was forced to raise size limits of summer flounder as high as 21 inches to comply with requirements. Fishermen in neighboring states can catch 17- to 18-inch fluke.
In 2011, a total of 1.4 million pounds of summer flounder were landed in New York state at a value of $3.4 million. If New York state had the same allocation as neighboring states, fishermen could have landed close to four million pounds and earned $9.8 million in revenue.
New York state's fishing industry generates approximately $1.8 billion in economic activity annually and supports close to 17,000 jobs.
Governor Cuomo sent a letter to the DOC outlining the negative impact current regulations have on the New York fishing industry, calling on the agency to pursue new strategies for assigning state quotas. The letter said that if action is not taken by the DOC to change the quota for the 2014 flounder season, the state is prepared to file a lawsuit to ensure a new, fair assessment.