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Commercial fishermen hit with two-week fluke closure

Commercial fisherman in New York are in the midst of a fluke fishing closure that will run until the end of the month. 

The closure began Sunday, and when it reopens Aug. 1, fishermen will be limited to a daily limit of 50 pounds of fluke. 

“That’s not even a box of fish,” said Riverhead fisherman Phil Karlin, who noted boxes are typically 60 or 70 pounds. 

The state Department of Environmental Conservation that enforces the federal quota restrictions notified fisherman of the closure via mail several days before, saying it was necessary to preserve fish for the fall,  Mr. Karlin said. 

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

Ultimately, something needs to be done about the fluke quotas the federal government sets for New York in general, Mr. Karlin said. 

Local commercial fisherman have long felt confined by the quotas while other states along the east coast have higher quotas. They’ve said the allocations are based on incomplete, incorrect and outdated data and put New York fishermen at a disadvantage. 

State Senator Ken LaValle and State Assemblyman Fred Thiele called on the state to keep its previous promises to bring litigation that aimed to strike down the fluke quotas for New York commercial fishermen. 

Governor Andrew Cuomo had visited Montauk in 2013 promising to do so, and issued a further warning to do so this past spring, when the state attorney general’s office filed a petition with the federal government to establish fair quota allocation for the state’s commercial harvest, the state legislators noted.

“Our commercial fishing industry is an essential element in the fabric of the East End,” Mr. LaValle said in a statement last week. “It is way past time that New York State steps up to support our local fishermen by immediately filing suit to obtain equitable quotas. We need the Governor and the Attorney General to file the lawsuits immediately. Too many of our fishing families are being harmed by the discriminatory quotas. This needs to stop now. Assemblyman Thiele and I will continue to fight for the industry in every manner possible.”

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Photo credit: Phil Karlin of PE & DD Seafood in Riverhead docks on Mattituck Inlet. (Kelly Zegers file photo)