JULY 31, 2018 - NYS DEC; NOTES FROM THE 1st SCOPING MEETING FOR COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN IN NYS - AN 'ENLIGHTENING DISCUSSION' TO SAY THE LEAST

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JULY 31, 2018 - NYS DEC; NOTES FROM THE 1st SCOPING MEETING FOR COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN IN NYS - AN 'ENLIGHTENING DISCUSSION' TO SAY THE LEAST

Postby EC NEWELLMAN » Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:56 pm

So for inquiring fishermen... what was the outcome from the 1st 'NYS Session to to Modernize/Reform NY's Commercial Fishing License System' at Kingsboro Community College last evening?

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It was a small turnout of commercial fishermen who did show up to room 239, with roughly 12 people in the audience, two being women who represented a commercial fishing business sitting amongst us.

NYS Director Jim Gilmore along with fishery consultant (was the Director of Maine Fisheries as well as a past ASMFC Chair) George LaPointe moderated the discussion and public comment session, and I must admit it was well coordinated on the numerous topics that were gone over as well as a professional and thoughtful decorum maintained throughout the whole meeting.

Let me first toss these numbers out that was provided by Willie 'Mars' based upon info sent to him by the Chief John Maniscalco as it concerns NYS FFL holders and VTR reported 'TAUTOG' landings in 2016 (latest complied data) Many fishermen on Long Island have felt that this particular fishery has the largest number of participants during the calendar year.

2016 - Total # NYS FFL issued '929' to tautog landings:

675 ----- NYS FFL claimed ZERO LANDINGS
146 ----- NYS FFL reported LESS THAN 200 lbs
64 ------- NYS FFL reported between 200 - 1000 lbs in landings
44 ------- NYS FFL reported over 1000 lbs in blackfish landings

Yes let that sink in for a moment as far as what many may have thought about LEGAL NYS FFL participants as far as reported blackfish landings made in the once Empire State.

It brings us to what seems was the main topic of contention.... 'latent' or what some will say "dead" licenses, where fishermen renew then neither have either reported landings in a particular fishery or in ANY fishery...and I emphasized the "ANY" because the number here as reported by Director Gilmore and fishery consultant LaPointe is:

- Between 200 to 300 NYS FFL with no landings over/within the past 3 - 5 yrs (it did come across that a large amount of NYS FFL holders have 5 yrs of no landings)

Again I will mention that I am jumping ahead of what transpired earlier in the meeting, but the LATENT LICENSE issue seems to be at the forefront of:

- Why, as one commercial fishermen asked is the NYS DEC continuing to issue a NYS FFL to those who do not report landings (NOTE: one reason mentioned by both an audience member, Director Gilmore and George L. is that these fishermen "hold on" since they believe they will eventually surrender their license through a future 'buyout'.... then mentioned, "DO NOT COUNT ON THIS."

- Apprenticeship (educational commercial fisheries program run by Kingsboro / Stony Brook college and earning a degree) and young people (deckhands) becoming NYS FFL holders as so far as the latent license reduction then creating a new pool of available NYS FFL for this group of fishermen.

- A sidebar note on re-allocating latent licenses to incoming fishermen which was repeated throughout this discussion in that the current 'horrendously' low allocation to NYS - thus quota on and in particular to: striped bass, summer flounder and sea bass, "cannot currently support any upward increase in landings - as these landings would now rise from zero, and would result in even shorter open periods throughout the year."

- It was also mentioned that any TRANSFER program of NYS FFLs (an opening of personal licenses for sale) with no reported landings - to fishermen who would purchase any available license, would also result in zero landings rising to "?????" levels in reported landings... and we repeat once again to the implication to even smaller day trip quotas to maintain any semblance to a few weeks of an open quarter/period.

In further "cooking with gas on this topic," and please folks do not go DEFCON 1 here, Director Gilmore when asked on what the number (in theory) would be to level the number of NYS FFL holders to the available quota......

- 50% reduction from the current number of NYS FFL that are issued each year

As Director Gilmore noted, "due to the current low allocation to NYS in a number of fisheries, MORE FISHERMEN FISHING will result in LESS FISH AVAILABLE to those fishermen." Essentially it comes down to a numbers game of "sizing the NYS commercial fishing industry to the current quota available."

This thought hung in the room as Director Gilmore and fishery consultant LaPointe spoke about what happened with the Maine lobster industry to licenses available...."who do we protect?"

Here Director Gilmore then discussed the issue of and within the tricky tropic, "who is a commercial fishermen and who do we now protect?"

- Core fishermen (full time, all income derived from commercial fishing

- Those who commercially fish 'full time' but have other income (pensions and/or other job(s))

- Part time commercial fishermen whose impact on landings "may be small" for, and to a number of fisheries

- Those who have "had/held" a NYS FFL for multiple decades yet now work in the for-hire industry

Here my public comment was on the last point of those for-hire industry party and charter boat captains who have had a NYS FFL from the 1980's and early 1990's who transitioned from commercial fishing to:

- full time for-hire party & charter

- part time for-hire, and has another job unrelated to fishing

Here this group may have 25 - 30 years in the fishing industry, but have little or no reported VTR landings to reach a minimum threshold (if set) to re-qualify for a NYS FFL in the following year.

In trying to keep this brief, other issues 'skimmed' over:

- HISTORY: those who worked as a deckhand on commercial vessels - Can a system be put in place that the captains history be used as a 'landings credit' for them to obtain a license?

- EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF QUOTA by GEAR TYPE: dividing quota "equally" amongst gear types (draggger / potter / handgear / net-fixed-cast) which has a host of problems on the definition of 'equal' based upon historical landings and possibly prolonging open quarters (this was glanced over in the discussion and should be a side issue to be debated over at another time)

- DISTRIBUTION OF LICENSES THROUGHOUT THE MARINE DISTRICT: which came up about NYS FFL skewing and more so, gravitating to fishermen on the east end of Long Island, in particular Montauk. Essentially NYS FFL holders to the west lessening in contrast to the number of NYS FFL to the east end of Long Island increasing.

- MONTAUK: It does seem as discussed during this and previously commercial fishing meetings, that Montauk fishermen heavily influence what 'happens' (to put it bluntly) as far as the quota distribution and other sub-topics (I am just reporting and not being subjective here as this came up a few times).

Other thoughts that were put out during the free and open public comment session:

- Means testing as a way of determining in reported landings for obtaining a NYS FFL in future years

- Balancing the number of NYS FFL available to low quotas / landing limits

- Self interest of ANY NYS FFL holder who speaks in swaying the discussion, depending on either their gear type and status as a full or part time fishermen

- Issue of offshore/trip boats vs inshore/day boats as well as full time vs part time fishermen

- Increasing NYS FFL fees to deter those who do not work their license to just surrender them (though Willie M. did point out about the cost of the NYS Landing Lic. fee of 500 dollars did not deter fishermen from buying one to fish upon)

- Enforcement issue (bought up by enforcement who was in the audience) of out of state vessels working within the confines of NY waters, yet only hauling back once outside NYS territorial boundary

- Upgrading the licensing and information system in NYS to increase data accuracy, real time landings and tracking information (Director Gilmore did mention they have 800k now available for a team of NYS IT people to come in for this project)

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Also...

Captain Paul Risi was in the audience and laid out a number of excellent bullet points about the NYS FFL with his main discussion on the future of the NYS commercial fishing industry and having fishermen come up through a documented education program where a young person learns from the bottom up working in the commercial fishing industry as well as earning an accredited state issued degree.

He also mentioned that in contrast to Director Gilmore and his theoretical 50% reduction in available NYS FFL's, that a more practical reduction would be a start of a 20% baseline reduction (example, 1000 NYS FFL available - 200 mandated to be removed the following year in latent licenses with no reported landings, thus 800 NYS FFL in the upcoming year). What would be done with these NYS FFL.... we can all speculate "what next" to either re-issue to new incoming commercial fishermen with stipulations (example with a tier system on landings), or retire them out of the fishery until such time as quotas for a number of fisheries are substantially increased in the coming years.

I do believe (now being subjective here) that this has to be put on the table going forward as the commercial fishing industry is aging out as far as the majority of working participants being 50 years or older. As fishery consultant LaPointe pointed out that all too many in the 60 year old range, "still remain with full-time direct involvement in commercial fishing," and this is not a NY commercial fishing industry issue but a northeast (especially groundfish fleet) as well as a coastal commercial fishing industry issue.

The licensing issue here then comes right back to those that have latent licenses which will not be re-issued NOW going to those who will work and produce landings...and we then have the whole "dog chasing its tail" discussion on what then happens to the number of license working to the low quotas available. Do we then go to a multi-tier NYS FFL licensing system for full and part time commercial fishermen, and what quotas they can land fish upon?

In wrapping this up, it was noted that this scoping process will move along at a very fast pace which some who have been involved within for many years will view as "troubling." Director Gilmore noted he has been the NYS DEC boss (Director) for 11 years and many of the issues within the commercial fishing industry as far as the framework of licensing/fees, was done before he became director.

The problem has been noted and discussed at MRAC meetings as the "kicking the can down the road" with fishery consultant LaPointe noting during the ppt. discussion that some outline for a framework for the future NYS FFL will be put forward for final public discussion in October and November. At that point it will then be presented at the end of this calendar year to state legislators LaValle and Thiele for a bill going forward in 2019. I do hope what many of you who have a stake in commercial fishing, thus holding a NYS FFL realize what this may mean to YOUR future in the NYS commercial fishing industry.

Previous to this first meeting, there were only six scheduled by the NYS DEC, but that has been changed and upgraded to 10 to 11 with one now in the Bronx and others added for fishermen in Montauk and other east end ports in order for fishermen to attend.

I understand this is a good amount of information to digest but I do believe there is this lingering question with the NYS FFL and the incentive for anyone to remain, sell out/retire or become a commercial fishermen in NYS. Ask yourself, "what is the incentive at this point in time especially as this may come down to something akin to a zero-sum legislative bill with possible landing and or income thresholds to now meet and/or maintain, or the/YOUR - NYS FFL no longer being renewed?"

I hope I did not muddy-up the waters for the upcoming meetings, one tonight at the NYS DEC Bunker in East Seatucket. Director Gilmore did note a few times that EVERYONE is welcome to attend any or all of the upcoming meetings to hear other commercial fisherman and their "concerns and point of view" and/or to put forward other personal comments.

Finally, thanks to MAFMC Councilor Tony DiLernia who not only attended, but provided input on a number of topics as well as coordinated the set up the location at Kingsboro College for this session for fishermen within the Sheepshead Bay fishing community. Tony has helped in making Kingsboro a location for fishermen to gather for these fishery meetings over the years (ie: summer flounder scoping hearing, NJ pots on the reef issue, to name a few) and that has been a big help in making these meetings convenient for the fishermen in the west end of the NYS Marine District.

A thank you to Tom Panzone from the NYS DEC Communication Services Dept, who passed along these pics to me a few moments ago with this message:

"Dear Steve:

It was a pleasure to have met and spoken with you last night at the meeting. As per your request, here is a photo or three of the event. Thank you and your fellow commercial fishermen for attending our meeting."

Also thanks to George LaPointe who can be reached at 207-557-4970 or at the email address provided in the NYS DEC release for public comments.

In closing, I understand that this has been an extremely troubling issue for NYS commercial fishermen, but this meeting was handled very professionally by both Director Gilmore and fishery consultant George LaPointe, with as much time given for a very open discussion. I do hope many others will attend and leave their impression / comments on what transpired at the upcoming meetings held across Long Island and NYC.

Steve EC Newellman
NY RFHFA

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Re: JULY 31, 2018 - NYS DEC; NOTES FROM THE 1st SCOPING MEETING FOR COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN IN NYS - AN 'ENLIGHTENING DISCUSSION' TO SAY THE LEAST

Postby jrgesq » Thu Aug 02, 2018 7:32 pm

Thank you for keeping everyone informed. While it may be hard to believe for some who know me, I started to cry as I walked alone to my car. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, that licenses were going to be taken away from individuals by legislation. I thought this could not happen in America. It's hard to believe what has transpired in my lifetime in fishing and it has not been positive. i started to dream of Sheepshead Bay in days gone by, with every slip filled with a boat and hundreds of people trying to get ahead and the crowds of people. What I see now and heard at that hearing will guarantee that fishing will continue to dwindle until it's over, like the last baitfish in a bait ball.
My daughter loves to fish and none of her friends understand what that is. I am thankful I had that opportunity to experience what I believe is a great sport.
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Re: JULY 31, 2018 - NYS DEC; NOTES FROM THE 1st SCOPING MEETING FOR COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN IN NYS - AN 'ENLIGHTENING DISCUSSION' TO SAY THE LEAST

Postby hntrss » Fri Aug 03, 2018 7:52 am

What a joke. What percentage of “full time” fisherman are retired and collecting a pension and social security? And how is one supposed to earn a living catching 50lbs (our current limits of fluke and seabass) of anything? Not to mention Fluke was closed for 2 weeks and Sea bass is closed until Sept. No one can possibly earn a sustainable living (like buy a house, pay bills, taxes and eat) with a rod and reel west of the Shinnecock canal under the current regulations.
I have to agree with Joe. Death by regulations. First they force you on land to survive, then they take your license away when you don’t have time to fish. What if your dream is to become one of those very retired guys that wants to fish after a life of hard work on land? Will they reimburse you a lifetime of paying for your FFL? I don’t feel anyone should lose it, especially under our current limits and seasons. Do any of you really believe taking away a few licenses will help the overall big picture? Maybe you can keep 60 lbs after they steal licenses from people. And not for nothing aren’t people that don’t use their license currently a good thing?? You collect the fees and they don’t hurt the fishery! I, by the way, am in no danger of losing my FFL , so I have no skin in this game. This is just more DEC bullshit.
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Re: JULY 31, 2018 - NYS DEC; NOTES FROM THE 1st SCOPING MEETING FOR COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN IN NYS - AN 'ENLIGHTENING DISCUSSION' TO SAY THE LEAST

Postby EC NEWELLMAN » Fri Aug 03, 2018 9:35 am

It is pretty troubling what has gone on here in the once Empire State when it comes to the commercial fishing industry, once not only one of the larger entities of small businesses on Long Island, but as much defined what some used to call Long Island as being "the land of farmers and fishermen."

What comes now down to an issue of the number of NYS FFLs in relation to the quota available of a number of species, which everyone who is involved in the fisheries here is just pitiful especially when compared to historical landings over the past 15 years.

The bottom line is that the quotas to NYS are not increased for these fisheries, this issue will continue to get worse...and I can pass along I would be very worried about the outcome of the summer flounder benchmark assessment....

Here are a few images sent in, with the first from Freeport and the second from the South Hampton meeting....and yes those are some poor images...get a iPHONE!

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Re: JULY 31, 2018 - NYS DEC; NOTES FROM THE 1st SCOPING MEETING FOR COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN IN NYS - AN 'ENLIGHTENING DISCUSSION' TO SAY THE LEAST

Postby MisterX » Sat Aug 04, 2018 6:49 am

It is a cruel catch-22 to say the least!

I never quite understood why a boat with 3 FFL license holders on board could only catch 1 commercial limit? Doesnt quite make sense to me. They regulate the crap out of our bottom fisheries, they regulate how and when you can use your license and -in essence- they have made it so fishing, by virtue of regulations, cannot be your only source of income..........
"When someone shares something of value with you and you benefit from it, you have a moral obligation to share it with others" - Chinese Proverb
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Re: JULY 31, 2018 - NYS DEC; NOTES FROM THE 1st SCOPING MEETING FOR COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN IN NYS - AN 'ENLIGHTENING DISCUSSION' TO SAY THE LEAST

Postby EC NEWELLMAN » Sat Aug 04, 2018 11:12 am

Good morning Sergio...

Mister X:

I never quite understood why a boat with 3 FFL license holders on board could only catch 1 commercial limit?


It was brought up by Joe Lauro on this issue of NYS FFL not being able to fish upon 1 vessel and lessen the cost to those license holders. Director Gilmore mentioned that this has been an issue previously brought up, and for some nonsensical reason (at least to those who commercially fish) has not be adapted. One reason (which does not make much sense) is that this could incentivize more fishing effort, thus exacerbate even shorter open periods. For those who legally target blackfish, this should not be an issue and been allowed, but this is the charade that continues here in NYS.
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Yesterday I did speak with a NYS FFL holder who did contact George LaPointe after the first series of meetings and he noted that George did point out the well behavior at 'all' of the meetings, with it rarely getting contentious on any topic.

It was also clear that at the Freeport meeting, the tone of a number of NYS FFL holders was for some type of BUYOUT of licenses, and that has a number of issues (that have been noted) as well as ramifications going forward on whether to either then:

- permanently retire these licenses or

- re-direct a percentage to either new and/of full time for-hire/commercial fishermen and/or

- held in a permit bank for use in distributing a number/percentage into a future NYS commercial fishermen education program

Also it was directly told to me that the NYS DEC may have an administrative issue in the yearly and in many cases, decades long of collecting money for the NYS FFL from those permit holders who have had no reported landings over a period of years. "Why wasn't there any written notification by the NYS DEC to fishermen who have been holding licenses without any reported landings?" One point that was brought up is the issue of deckhands on both commercial and for-hire vessels holding a NYS FFL and not submitting any VTRs. This was the reason it was brought up about this small group being given a 'landings credit' in order to maintain or obtain a NYS FFL in the future.

That is all for now.....


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Re: JULY 31, 2018 - NYS DEC; NOTES FROM THE 1st SCOPING MEETING FOR COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN IN NYS - AN 'ENLIGHTENING DISCUSSION' TO SAY THE LEAST

Postby EC NEWELLMAN » Sat Aug 04, 2018 11:33 am

For those who do not receive NEWSDAY (I do since I am an optonline customer), here is:

Mark Harrington: Testimony: Young fishermen being driven from Long Island fishing industry Fishermen complain an antiquated licensing system makes it difficult to transfer permits


To wit:

Licenses for many fisheries are closed, due to the declining populations of species such as lobster, or because New York has only a limited portion of the coastal quota for thriving species such as black sea bass and fluke.

As a result, the only way younger fishermen can hope to access the fishery is if their parents die and they live in the same house as the previous license holder, or through one of the occasional lotteries held by the state for a handful of permits.


Also now being reported:

George LaPointe, the consultant and former chairman of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, told the group as many as a third of the 900 food-fish licenses issued each year in the state are considered latent and "aren't used."


Needless to say, we had an idea it was that high a number of latent licenses, and now confirmed by the fishery consultant.....

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Re: JULY 31, 2018 - NYS DEC; NOTES FROM THE 1st SCOPING MEETING FOR COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN IN NYS - AN 'ENLIGHTENING DISCUSSION' TO SAY THE LEAST

Postby Capt. Frank » Sun Aug 05, 2018 10:43 am

Steve,
Just to put this in perspective there are 19,850,000 million people in NYS and only 900 FFL holders; that equates to .00004% of the population of NYS. The idea as put out by the DEC, their Consultant Mr. LaPointe that there are too many fisherman and too few fish and that the problem is that this impossibly small fraction of the population of NYS residents who hold a FFL and have been legally paying NYS in some cases for decades for the right to catch and sell their fish is complete BS; as well as the question of whether they chose to exercise that right or not which is also complete BS. No one who currently holds a FFL and has followed the rules established should have their license removed or infringed upon in any way.
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