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Thiele to NY: Follow Feds, Re-Open Sea Bass Fishery

Superstorm Sandy left fishermen "financially crippled," assemblyman says.

After hearing from constituents, Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. has asked the state to look at re-opening two fisheries.

On Thursday, Thiele sent a letter to Joe Martens, the commissioner of the State Department of Environmental Conservation, to consider opening New York's sea bass fishery in January 2013, in part because Superstorm Sandy caused "widespread destruction to the fishing industry."

Last week, he asked the department to reopen striped bass fishing, after local commercial fishermen complained that Sandy disrupted the fall fishing season, which ended Dec. 15, and that the fish are migrating later due to weather changes.

Thiele said he has been assured that the sea bass request is under "active consideration" and he believes determination will be made in the next few days. He is less hopeful about the striped bass request, though.

He reason is that the sea bass fishery has been opened federally for a winter fishery during the months of January and February already, he said. Coastal states, such as New Jersey, Delaware, and Virginia have opened the access starting Jan. 1. New York will likely follow suit, he said.

As for striped bass, it would take an act of the legislature, Thiele said, to get it reopened — unless the governor makes an emergency declaration.

"Our fishing infrastructure has been badly damaged and fishermen are financially crippled," Thiele wrote in a letter to Martens. "Opening the sea bass fishery this winter will create jobs and boost the Long Island economy. If New York choose not to open the season, we will lose business to neighboring states as fishermen flock to fish with out-of-state competitors."

Thiele said conversations with East Hampton Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson and several commercial fishing boat owners led to sending the letter.

Captain Paul Forsberg, who owns the Viking Fishing Fleet in Montauk, wrote to Thiele that it has been "a devastating season with the entire coastline shut down for many weeks as a result of the devastating effects" of Sandy that hit in late October. "In fact most boats to the west never recovered and are financially crippled. Having Sea Bass open this winter will significantly improve everyone's financial situation and will create jobs and a boost to the economy of Long Island."

If the state refuses to open the sea bass fishery, "This travesty will raise unemployment and place a burden on an already weakened Fleet."

Do you agree that the sea bass fishery should be reopened in January? Tell us in the comments below.

CUL8R December 22, 2012 at 10:36 AM
Thue viking fleet is a charter boat company not a commercial fishing fleet. I am confused?
Brendan J. O'Reilly December 27, 2012 at 02:03 AM
The sea bass season has been extended: http://southampton.patch.com/articles/sea-bass-fishing-season-extended-in-wake-of-superstorm-sandy

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