Saltwater Fishing & Boating Newsletter

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

In This Issue:

  • Marine Resources Advisory Council Meeting Rescheduled: June 7
  • Sharing Your Fishing Information Can Help Improve Our Fishery
  • Emergency Action for Atlantic Striped Bass Virtual Public Hearings
  • ASMFC Presents 2023 Annual Awards of Excellence
  • Research of Sperm Whale Behavior in the New York Bight
  • Horseshoe Crab Commercial Fishery Closures Dates
  • Upcoming Fishery Meetings

Marine Resources Advisory Council Meeting Rescheduled: June 7

The Marine Resources Advisory Council (MRAC) scheduled for Tuesday, May 23, at 2:00 pm is being rescheduled for Wednesday, June 7, at 2:00 pm. The meeting will be held at Stony Brook University, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Room 120 Endeavor Hall, Stony Brook, NY. The meetings are open to the public, and members of the public may address MRAC on marine resources issues.

Details on how to listen to the livestream of the meeting are available on DEC's website. Attendees joining the livestream online or by phone are limited to listening only. A complete agenda for the meeting will be available on MRAC's website before the meeting.

Sharing Your Fishing Information Can Help Improve Our Fishery

DEC staff measuring fish on a recreational fishing boat

Have you noticed DEC staff surveying at your local fishing spot? Anglers are encouraged to answer a few questions about their fishing activity as part of an on-site survey being conducted in partnership with NOAA Fisheries to help collect data and improve the management of local fisheries.

From March through December, DEC staff can be found at designated public fishing sites to conduct the coastwide Access Point Angler Intercept Survey (APAIS). Surveyors count the total number of anglers using the site and interview individual anglers to collect information about the number, size, and weight of fish kept, the number of fish caught and released, the fishing gear used, and basic demographic info. The data collected from these confidential surveys will help assess the health of the fishery and maintain fish stocks.

For more information on the survey, visit NOAA’s Marine Recreational Information Program webpage or the DEC APAIS webpage.

Emergency Action for Atlantic Striped Bass Virtual Public Hearings

DEC will be updating 2023 recreational saltwater fishing regulations for Atlantic striped bass in marine waters to a slot limit of 28-to-31 inches after Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) found that the probability of the stock being rebuilt by 2029 has significantly decreased (PDF). New York State works cooperatively with ASMFC and all East Coast states under a cooperative fishery management plan. The emergency action requires implementation of a 31” maximum slot limit for current recreational fisheries, however, it does not change the size limit on the Hudson River (north of the George Washington Bridge) which will remain at 18-to-28 inches.

ASMFC will host virtual public hearings (PDF) to inform the public about this emergency action and identify the next steps for management, the first of which occurred on May 17. Upcoming virtual hearings will be held on:

  • Monday, May 22, 6:00-8:00 pm
  • Tuesday, May 23, 5:00-7:00 pm
  • Wednesday, May 31, 6:00-8:00 pm

More information or to register for a hearing.

The New York recreational striped bass regulations will not change until New York State adopts the new regulations required by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Once the regulations are published in the State Register, DEC will seek public comment on the proposed regulation. Anglers are encouraged to continue to check DEC’s Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations webpage for the current limits in effect.

ASMFC Presents 2023 Annual Awards of Excellence

DEC staff members receiving Annual Awards of Excellence from ASMFC

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) presented the Annual Awards of Excellence during the annual Spring Meeting in May 2023. DEC retired staff and current law enforcement were the recipients of the following awards for their significant contributions to fisheries management. 

Photo caption from left to right: ASMFC Executive Director Bob Beal, DEC Lieutenant Sean Reilly, Carol Hoffman, Awards Committee Chair Jim Gilmore, and ASMFC Chair Spud Woodward

Scientific and Technical Contributions

Carol Hoffman (retired DEC Marine Biologist) was recognized for her longstanding scientific and technical contributions to the management of Atlantic striped bass and American eel. Her keen understanding of fishery management plans and strong analytical abilities helped to ensure that New York manages these species in consideration of both state and coastwide needs. Carol’s thorough and detailed approach to data analysis and report development has been key to maintaining New York’s high quality of work.

Her unmatched ability to meticulously remember the Commission’s procedures and timelines ensured that New York consistently fulfilled its interstate management responsibilities.
A strong communicator and dedicated team player, Carol fostered strong relationships not only within the marine district, but also with New York’s inland and Hudson River fisheries. She developed vital working relationships with her neighboring states of New Jersey and Connecticut which allowed striped bass and eel to be monitored and managed successfully on a regional level. Particularly for eel, Carol worked tirelessly to provide alternative data sets
from a citizen science group and a power plant in New York, both of which are now used to assess the species.

Not only has Carol delivered timely and accurate data analyses and compliance reports, she has also been instrumental in the extensive process of regulation formulation that supports the Commission’s mandates. Her efforts contributed to New York being an active and dedicated participant in the Commission’s fisheries management process.

Law Enforcement Contributions

DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) in Region 3 (Hudson Valley) were recognized for their efforts in the protection of the Atlantic striped bass along the spawning grounds of the Hudson River. Over the past three years, ECOs have conducted patrols of Putnam, Orange, and Rockland Counties for recreational fishery compliance inspections and dedicated resources to the protection of migrating striped bass in February and March.

During 14 dedicated patrols in 2023, ECOs issued 430 tickets for violations of striped bass regulations and other associated violations. Officers seized 184 illegally possessed striped bass during their patrols that were later donated to a local zoo. The dedicated patrols were conducted at varied times of the day and night. Officers used specialized night vision gear to aid in the detection of anglers.

Over the course of this operation, violations included fishing without a marine registration; failure to use circle hooks; exceeding the possession and size limits; and targeting striped bass during a closed season. With the opening of the season on April 1, the dedicated patrols have ended, but officers continue to diligently monitor the fishery. Through their efforts, these officers have helped to ensure that fishing regulations are upheld and the resource is given its best chance to rebuild.

Research of Sperm Whale Behavior in the New York Bight

Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) are an endangered large whale species that live primarily in deep offshore waters at the continental shelf break. The New York Bight (NYB), an ecologically rich region off the U.S. Atlantic coast between New Jersey and Long Island, provides habitat for the species throughout most of the year.

Sperm whale sightings were collected during the New York Bight Whale Monitoring Program aerial surveys that were conducted monthly from March 2017 through February 2020. In total, 32 groups consisting of 72 sperm whales, ranging in group size from a single animal to seven individuals, were recorded during the 3-year survey. The sightings revealed behavior not previously observed and provide new information on how sperm whales are using waters off New York.

Aerial image of sperm whales in a Rosette Formation (circle)

In August 2018, a group of seven sperm whales (6 adult females and 1 juvenile) was observed in a circle formation with their heads in and tails outward. This is known as a rosette formation that is typically observed as a defense mechanism. Shortly after the rosette formation occurred, observers recorded a pod of dolphins that appeared to be harassing the juvenile whale. 

Another observation in July 2019 showed two mother-calf pairs together, which resulted in the first photo record of nursing behavior in the NYB. In addition to behavior, anthropogenic impacts on whales were also observed during the survey. Additionally, in July 2018, an entangled sperm whale provided a stark example of the risks to large whales from human activity. For more information on New York's efforts to protect marine species, visit DEC's website. 

These findings were recently published by A. Zoidis, Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) Behavioral Events Observed During Aerial Surveys in the New York Bight, 2017-2020, in Aquatic Mammals 2023, 49(3), 308-319. This is the fourth published paper from the NYB Whale Monitoring Program, which is funded by the Environmental Protection Fund/Ocean and Great Lakes.

Photo caption: Sperm whale in rosette formation positioning with juvenile in the middle following an interaction with bottlenose dolphins. Tetra Tech, M. Smultea.

Horseshoe Crab Commercial Fishery Closures Dates

Effective Wednesday, May 17 through Sunday, May 21 the commercial New York State horseshoe crab fishery is closed

  • On Monday, May 22, the fishery will open and the daily trip limit is set at 200 crab.
  • Effective on Thursday, June 1 through Monday, June 5 the commercial New York State horseshoe crab fishery is closed.

Trip limits may be modified by DEC subject to the criteria listed in the Horseshoe Crab Quota Distribution Plan (PDF). For the current commercial harvest limits in effect, visit DEC's website. 

Upcoming Fishery Meetings

Marine Resources Advisory Council Meeting
Wednesday, June 7, 2023, 2:00 PM 
*Please note, the meeting is being held on Wednesday*

Stony Brook University, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences
Endeavor Hall, Room 120

Details on how to listen to the livestream of the meeting are available on DEC's website. Attendees joining the livestream online or by phone are limited to listening only. A complete agenda for the meeting will be available on MRAC's website before the meeting.

Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council June 2023 Meeting
Tuesday, June 6 - Thursday, June 8, 2023
Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront, 3001 Atlantic Avenue, Virginia Beach, VA

This will be an in-person meeting with a virtual option. Council members, other meeting participants, and members of the public will have the option to participate in person at the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront or virtually via Webex webinar. Additional details are available on MAFMC's webpage.