Saltwater Fishing & Boating Newsletter: Black Sea Bass Appeal, Striped Bass Circle Hooks, Artificial Reefs

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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Saltwater Fishing & Boating Newsletter 

In This Issue:

  • New York State Appeal for Commercial Black Sea Bass Allocation
  • Comment Period Open for Striped Bass Circle Hook Requirements
  • Visit New York's Artificial Reefs
  • DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights
  • Marine Resources Advisory Council Meeting - May 18

New York State Appeal for Commercial Black Sea Bass Allocation

Statement from Commissioner Basil Seggos

"DEC continues to fight for the rights of New York's commercial black sea bass fishing industry and for an equitable share of the Atlantic coast's black sea bass harvest. DEC won an appeal to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission regarding a February 2021 Black Sea Bass Management Board decision that made changes to the state commercial allocations. In the appeal, DEC successfully argued that the changes were not fair to New York and did not reflect the abundant black sea bass fishery in New York State's waters of Long Island Sound. The earlier decision by the Black Sea Bass Management Board would have resulted in unfair impacts to the State's commercial fishing industry and limited its ability to utilize an abundant inshore resource. DEC looks forward to working with the Black Sea Bass Management Board later this year to finalize new allocations and will continue to advocate for the just treatment of New York's fishing industry while ensuring our fishery resources are protected."

Commercial Blass Sea Bass Allocations

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) jointly coordinate the management of interstate black sea bass resources amongst Atlantic Coast states. State commercial allocations were established in 2003 based on landings data from 1980-2001. Today the fishery has changed drastically, increasing in abundance in the northern part of its range and expanding into new areas where they were previously rare. Since 2010, black sea bass have become abundant in Long Island Sound and a significant proportion of these changes were attributed to climate change by several different scientific investigations.

Black sea bass

The Black Sea Bass Management Board reviewed and revised commercial state allocations for black sea bass to address the climate-driven population changes. The Board acknowledged the significant change in the Long Island Sound and the challenges it created for fisheries there and voted to give the State of Connecticut an additional 2 percent to its commercial allocation. New York requested identical consideration due to the shared nature of Long Island Sound and similar fishery management difficulties and was denied. New York State successfully appealed this decision on May 6, 2021 during ASMFC's Spring Meeting Interstate Fisheries Management Program Policy Board. Revised allocations will be reviewed during ASMFC's Summer Meeting in August 2021. For more details on the appeal, visit DEC's website.

New York State Black Sea Bass Fishery

New York's Black Sea Bass Quota Distribution Plan is established annually with review and input provided from the State's commercial fishing industry and approved by the Marine Resources Advisory Council. Visit DEC's website for details on the distribution plan and a summary of state landings. 

Photo credit: Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC)

Comment Period Open for Striped Bass Circle Hook Requirements

Effective April 21, 2021, anglers are required to use non-offset (inline) circle hooks when recreational fishing for striped bass with bait, which is defined as any whole or part of a marine or aquatic organism or terrestrial invertebrate. The full text of the regulation is available on DEC's website. The public comment period is open from May 12 through June 28, 2021.

  • A non-offset (inline) circle hook means the point and barb of the hook are in the same plane as the shank and the tip of the hook is turned perpendicularly back toward the shank.
  •  Bait is defined as any whole or part of a marine or aquatic organism or terrestrial invertebrate, both live or dead.
  • Circle hooks are not required when fishing with an artificial lure, whether or not they are tipped with bait as previously described.
  • Some examples of artificial lure exemptions include pork rinds on bucktail jigs, eel skin plugs, tube and worm, and any man-made flies.

Submit written public comments through June 28, 2021, to: 

Carol Hoffman
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Division of Marine Resources
205 N. Belle Mead Road, Suite 1, East Setauket, NY 11733

Visit Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations for current regulations in effect. 

Visit New York's Artificial Reefs

New York State Artificial Reef GuideDid you know there are 12 artificial reef sites located in New York's marine waters? Two in Long Island Sound, two in Great South Bay, and eight in the Atlantic Ocean on the south shore of Long Island! 

Artificial reefs are created from "aquatically recycled" materials to provide new and enhanced habitats for fish and other aquatic organisms. They are made from a variety of hard, durable materials, such as rock, concrete, and steel, that are safe and will last a long time in the marine environment. In 2020, Governor Cuomo announced the deployment of 75 Wells Fargo rail cars that were added to reefs in New York. Reef sites that received rail cars include Atlantic Beach Reef, Fire Island Reef, Hempstead Reef, Moriches Reef, Shinnecock Reef, and Twelve Mile Reef.

Check out New York's Artificial Reef Guide (PDF) to learn more about the fishing and diving opportunities that exist on artificial reefs. You can also learn more about reef site characteristics, materials used, coordinates of patch reefs, and the history of deployments by visiting DEC's Artificial Reef Interactive Map.

Be sure to check New York's Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations for the current open season and size limit regulations before you head out on your next fishing trip. Anglers 16 years and older must enroll in the no-fee Recreational Marine Fishing Registry. Register through DECALS online, by calling 1-866-933-2257, or visiting a License Issuing Agent. 

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Highlights

(Illegal) Catch of a Lifetime - Ambrose Channel, Marine District 

Illegally harvested bluefin tuna

On May 8, Sgt. Auguscinski and ECO Brussell inspected a vessel in Queens County and found the crew in possession of a 700-pound Bluefin Tuna. ECOs were tipped off by a Facebook post to meet the vessel at the dock. Upon inspection of the vessel, the Officers found that the crew did not possess the Federal Highly Migratory Species permit needed to fish for tuna. Officers in DEC’s Region 2 are also deputized NOAA Officers and referred the case to the federal agency to adjudicate. 

Photo caption: Big tuna caught illegally

Catching the Run - Suffolk County 

ECOs Simmons and Della Rocco worked a late shift on April 24 in hopes of protecting the striped bass migrating through Long Island waters. What started as a slow night picked up quickly when rumors spread among anglers that there were fish to be caught on the North Shore near Stony Brook. Using night vision, ECO Simmons lasered in on a group of anglers. After a while, the group started pulling striped bass up on the beach. In a matter of minutes, two anglers had caught and kept five undersized striped bass. ECO Simmons and Della Rocco confronted them, found the fish, and issued four tickets for possession of undersized striped bass over the possession limit. 

Fish Bag Snagged - Nassau County 

On April 24, ECO DeRose received a call from a complainant reporting nearby anglers who had caught a small striped bass but did not return it to the water. ECO DeRose reached out to ECO Perkins to assist and both Officers quickly responded. While ECO Perkins interviewed the fishermen, ECO DeRose and K9 Cramer searched the adjacent area. Although the fishermen all said they did not catch anything, K9 Cramer’s nose proved otherwise. The dog detected a bag hidden in a space in the bulkhead just above the incoming tide. Confronted with the evidence, one fisherman stepped forward and admitted the fish belonged to him. Officers seized the fish and ticketed the angler. 

A Dog’s Nose Knows- Nassau County

On April 23, ECOs called in K9 Cramer to investigate two anglers observed catching a striped bass that appeared to be undersized. When confronted, both fishermen insisted they did not catch anything. ECO DeRose brought in K9 Cramer and the four-legged officer quickly located a fully concealed undersized striped bass under a fallen tree. Before long, K9 Cramer found three more undersized fish in the area. The ECOs issued both fishermen tickets for possessing undersized striped bass and possessing over the daily limit of one striped bass. One of the anglers was well known to both ECOs, as this incident marks the third time this season officers have caught him with illegal striped bass. Consequently, the ECOs seized his fishing poles and tackle. The tickets are returnable to the First District Court of Nassau County. 

K9 Cramer Finds Illegal Catches - Nassau County 

ECO DeRosa and K9 Cramer with illegally harvested striped bassOn April 8, seven days before the opening of striped bass season, ECOs Pabes and Macropoulos conducted surveillance at a popular fishing spot where the Officers watched a group of anglers catch at least two bass without releasing the fish. The ECOs observed the fishermen walk out of sight with their catch and return without the fish. The ECOs, including K9 Cramer, approached the fishing party who claimed they had not caught anything. K9 Cramer quickly alerted the Officers to an area where the anglers had stashed a total of 11 out-of-season striped bass, most of which would have been undersized if the season were open. Officers issued tickets to four fishermen for possession of striped bass out of season, returnable to the First District Court of Nassau County. 

Photo caption: K9 Cramer and his “catch” for the night 

Upcoming Meetings

Marine Resources Advisory Council Meeting
Tuesday, May 18, 2021, 2:00 p.m.

  • The Marine Resources Advisory Council (MRAC) advises DEC on marine resources issues, such as commercial and recreational fishing, proposed regulations, and the protection and utilization of New York's valuable marine resources.
  • Register online for the virtual meeting, and visit DEC's website for more information.