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DEC to seek feedback from commercial fishermen

The Department of Environmental Conservation will seek public input as it seeks to reform the current commercial fishing licensing system, state lawmakers announced Monday.

In a news release, Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) and State Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) announced a series of meetings across Long Island starting Monday, July 30.

“The current regulations related to the transfer of permits and licenses have thwarted the proper operation of this industry,” Mr. Thiele said in the release.

The meetings will allow stakeholders in the industry to provide key insights on the current licensing protocol to DEC officials and George LaPointe, a marine fisheries consultant hired to oversee the revisions.

Mr. LaPointe, a former commissioner of Maine’s Department of Natural Resources, will analyze and make recommendations on how to best modernize and improve the program.

According to the DEC, the current licensing system scheme has evolved over the last three decades to respond to changes in fish populations and the needs of interstate fishery management strategies.

Local commercial fishermen have been outspoken about enforced quotas that disproportionately affect New York fishermen.

Mr. LaValle highlighted the importance of seeking insight from industry experts, calling the economic success of commercial fishermen an “ultimate priority.”

“We must resolve these issues with our fishing community at the table in full participation,” Mr. LaValle said in a statement.

State lawmakers brought the issue into focus last year, when they blocked the DEC from continuing the commercial fishing licensing system for three years. As a compromise, the system was limited to one year and DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos met with members of the industry on Long Island last fall.

In July, commercial fishermen were hit with a two-week fluke closure. When fluke fishing reopens on Aug. 1, there will be a 50-pound daily limit, which drew criticism from local fishermen.

“It’s putting a hardship on all fishermen,” said Phil Karlin of Riverhead. “We’ve had it tough as it is. To close it in the middle of the summer like this is not good.”

There are several meetings scheduled throughout Long Island, including two on the East End:

Thursday, Aug. 2, 6 p.m.

Southampton Town Hall (first floor)

116 Hampton Road

Southampton, New York 11968

Tuesday, Aug. 21, 6 p.m.

Suffolk County Marine Environmental Learning Center

3690 Cedar Beach Road

Southold, New York 11971

For a full list of meeting notices, visit the DEC’s website at dec.ny.gov. The DEC will also accept comments on the commercial licensing system until September 15, 2018 via email to [email protected] with the subject line “GLP Permits,” or by mail to Maureen Davidson, NYSDEC, 205 Belle Mead Road, Suite #1, East Setauket, NY 11733.

[email protected]

Photo caption: Phil Karlin of Riverhead (file photo) 

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