Tag Archives: Department of Environmental Conservation.

Opinion: Fishing Violations? Cite Captains and Crew

Two recent high-profile incidents involving Montauk party-fishing boats have drawn attention to a problem on the water in which paying customers take too many or too small fish, while the crews, captains, and vessel owners evade responsibility.,,, It also is interesting to note that the state appears to be finally paying attention to how recreational fishing affects fish stocks. For decades the majority of its enforcement efforts was directed toward commercial harvesters, despite statistics that, in many cases if not all, indicated that sportfishing had an equal or greater impact on the resource. click here to read the op-ed 12:05

D.E.C. Ticketed Montauk Anglers for Dumping Fish

Marine enforcement officers from the State Department of Environmental Conservation, on patrol in Montauk Harbor on Aug. 31, saw what they estimated was hundreds of pounds of fish being thrown overboard from a Montauk party boat and wound up ticketing eight people, including the boat’s captain, Keith Williams. According to a D.E.C. spokeswoman, the officers approached the 75-foot Fin Chaser, based on Star Island, and ordered the anglers to stop what they were doing. Their orders were ignored, she said. The party boat’s customers were cited for possessing too many black sea bass and porgies, undersized black sea bass and summer flounder, and for failure to stop dumping upon command. click here to read the story 08:25

NewYork State to close commercial fluke fishery Sept. 1

The notice by the Department of Environmental Conservation sent to commercial fluke permit holders Monday said the closure, enacted to preserve a fourth-quarter fishing period from October through December, “will remain in effect until further notice.”,,, Local fishermen say they had already been straining under an exceptionally low daily quota of just 50 pounds through most of the year, even though fluke have been relatively abundant this year. “I’m so angry,” said Mattituck fisherman Arthur Kretschmer, 61, who operates a bottom-fish trawler on the eastern Long Island Sound. Speaking of regulators he said, “These people have no clue how it affects people’s lives when they close down a fishery. We have nothing left to catch here.” click here to read the story 17:55

Safe Harbor Bill Becomes Law, Ensures Legal Rights and Protection of Commercial Fishermen in Emergency Situations

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and Senator Ken LaValle today announced that Governor Cuomo signed their Safe Harbor Law on August 21. The bill provides commercial fishing vessels with safe harbor. Safe harbor means immunity from prosecution from State fishing regulations in certain emergency situations.,,, The Safe Harbor Law would apply when a commercial fisherman (1) encounters or is forecasted to encounter unsafe weather, (2) experiences a mechanical problem, that makes the continuation of the voyage unsafe and poses a risk to life and property, (3) experiences a significant medical emergency which requires immediate medical attention necessary to protect the health of any person on board, or (4) experiences loss of essential gear such as support systems that renders the vessel unable to remain at sea. click here to read the story 14:30

New York – State DEC officials agree to meeting over LI fishing permits

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has agreed to meet with Long Island fishing interests over long-held complaints about access to restricted commercial fishing permits following a move by local legislators seeking quicker action on state fishing rules. The meeting, brokered by Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), is expected to address the complexities of acquiring, transferring and even passing to family members permits to fish for vital local fish such as striped bass and fluke. It may also address so-called latent permits, in which a large percentage of existing permits are held but not used. Fishermen also have complained of long-standing moratoriums on certain species of fish. click here to read the story 09:29

State officials investigating fish die-off in Hampton Bays

dead-bunkerThe Shinnecock Canal in Hampton Bays became the scene of a massive fish die-off Monday morning, with tens of thousands of menhaden — more commonly known as bunker — clogging the water surface for hundreds of yards. Authorities, including state Department of Environmental Conservation investigators, responded to the scene Monday. Regional DEC spokesman Bill Fonda said staff investigators were looking into the cause, but that initial indications were the die-off was “probably due to the usual reasons … We don’t see anything so far to indicate it’s chemical” or from a pollutant. Read the story here 13:08

State of New York finalizes safe harbor rules for commercial fishermen

New York has finalized guidelines for commercial fishing boats seeking safe harbor in storms and other adverse conditions, eight months after the state lost a court case against one East End fisherman because the rules weren’t in writing. The state Department of Environmental Conservation says the new safe harbor guidelines will give clarity to fishing boat captains faced with potential dangers at sea by defining the conditions under which they can seek permission to enter New York ports while on federally registered commercial fishing trips. The guidelines require captains to notify the DEC before entering port in the state to seek permission to enter. The DEC said the rules were welcomed by fishermen, but one local fishing advocate argued the guidelines are “toothless” because they don’t grant fishermen any rights. Read the story here 07:56

Supplier takes heat for Price Chopper’s illegally small lobsters

lobster-sizeA New England seafood supplier said it deserves the blame for unlawful lobsters being sold by Price Chopper. The Department of Environmental Conservation on Tuesday seized 1,100 pounds of lobster from two Price Chopper supermarkets and a company distribution center after it found illegally small lobsters at stores in Binghamton. “It’s important for people to understand that Price Chopper didn’t knowingly accept short length lobsters from us,” said Dave Madden, an owner of Lobster Trap, a distributor from Cape Cod, Mass. “We delivered them in error.” New York enacted the size restrictions to prevent overfishing, but Lobster Trap said most other Northeastern states are not as strict. That led company workers to mistakenly mix smaller lobsters into the shipment bound for New York. Link 09:12

New York State DEC Adopts Regulations for the Atlantic Ocean Surfclam Fishery

clammer-lori-anne-jj-e1428161550201New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the adoption of regulations for the Atlantic Ocean surfclam fishery to ensure consistency with the harvest management measures of the State’s Atlantic Ocean Surfclam Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The regulations take effect immediately. “These regulations will help promote the sustainability of the surfclam fishery and economic viability of its traditional New York-based fishing interests by ensuring that the distribution of fishing quota is fair for all participants,” Commissioner Seggos said. An apparent loophole in the surfclam vessel replacement regulations has allowed one or more vessels to catch more than one IFQ in a year. This regulation closes this regulatory loophole that has allowed multiple individual fishing quotas to be fished by one or more vessels which has negatively impacted fishing businesses with vessels limited to one individual fishing quota. Read the rest here 08:24

On the verge of a premature Commercial bluefish shutdown, Senator Schumer fires off a letter!

bluefish2The decision, which could be made any day now, is based on data from the Marine Recreation Information Program, which is the program NOAA uses to record all of its recreational fishing data. Recent data shows a high number of bluefish were caught last year by recreational fishers. The DEC, however, has argued in a letter sent to NOAA that it finds the data “troubling” and is urging officials to reevaluate the findings. On Monday, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) also called on NOAA to take a second look, writing in a letter to the organization that “any decision on bluefish fishing season must be based on up-to-date science, period.” Mr. Schumer’s request follows a letter sent to NOAA last Tuesday by DEC commissioner Basil Seggos, who expressed concern that a mid-season closure would be a “devastating blow to our commercial fisheries.” Bonnie Brady of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association said that while ending the bluefish season this early would have some impact on related East End businesses, it’s a major blow to commercial fishermen. Read the article here 14:35

River Herring spawn in NY tributary for 1st time in 85 years

A few days after a long-abandoned industrial dam was removed from the mouth of a Hudson River tributary this spring, hundreds of river herring swarmed up into the shallow waters to spawn for the first time in 85 years. The removal of the rusted steel dam on the Wynants Kill near Albany was the first of what ecologists hope will be many barriers removed in Hudson tributaries to restore spawning habitat for herring and other ocean-going species that have been devastated by habitat loss, pollution and overfishing. “There are more than 1,500 dams in the Hudson estuary watershed, most of them no longer in use,” said Frances Dunwell, coordinator of the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program. “One of the key items on our to-do list by 2020 is to remove as many of these barriers as possible.” Read the rest here 12:01

Senator Schumer pushes for new black sea bass commercial fishing regulations

Sen. Charles Schumer was in Northport Wednesday calling for updated fishing industry regulations and to consider allowing commercial fishers to catch black sea bass in June. New York’s sea bass fishing closed on May 31, and does not reopen until July 1 – a schedule Schumer claimed is hurting the industry. “The black sea bass stocks are thriving and the industry is well below its allowable quota so it makes sense to keep open this fishery in June rather than close it,” Schumer said. “We also must change the arbitrary and outdated federal regulations that hamstring the state DEC so we can more coherently and fairly manage the black sea bass fishery.” Citing  the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, Schumer said the 2016 New York State allocation for black sea bass is approximately 200,000 pounds, yet as of May 25. Yet only about 40,000 pounds have been caught. Read the rest here 13:43

A dwindling North Fork fishing community urge emergency measures to keep black sea bass season open

riverhead june closure of the black sea bass seasonAbout a dozen of them met at a Mattituck marina Thursday to vent their frustration at the measure, which one fisherman said would reduce his income by 80 percent. Meanwhile, the state’s top fishing regulator wrote a letter to federal fisheries managers urging them to expedite an assessment to improve the data upon which local quotas are based. State regulators are pushing federal regulators to fix the problem. In a May 17 letter to top federal fishing regulators, Basil Seggos, acting DEC commissioner, noted the fishery has been rebuilt since 2009, yet fishermen “continue to struggle under low catch limits and restrictive measures while black sea bass appear to be more abundant than in any time in recent history.” Read the story here 14:41

NY Fishermen: State Officers Violating The Constitution With Searches And Sales Of Seized Catch

State lawmakers and fishermen’s advocates are pushing legislation that would rein in the powers of search and seizure by state environmental enforcement officers. State Department of Environmental Conservation officers routinely cross geographic boundaries in their searches of fishermen’s boats, trucks and properties, charged Dan Rogers, an attorney who has represented several fishermen against DEC charges, and then competes economically against those fishermen in selling the seized fish for profits to pad state budgets.  Mr. Rodgers said at a gathering of fishermen and officials at the home of brothers Danny and Paul Lester, commercial fishermen from Amagansett, on Thursday afternoon. “It’s legal under New York State law, but it’s not legal under the constitution.” Read the rest here 11:58

East End fishermen gather, demand changes to state enforcement laws

East End commercial fishing advocates gathered at an Amagansett fishing family’s home Thursday to demand a change to state law that allows enforcement officers the “unfettered” ability to seize and sell fish taken in enforcement actions. The request follows years of charges by several East End fishermen that state enforcement officers seized fish then sold it without any procedure for those charged to reclaim their property once they were later acquitted. Since the practice has come under criticism, the state has returned more than $10,000 to fishermen who were acquitted of charges. Among them were the Lester family, whose members in 2013 received a check for $202.25 for seized fish after they were acquitted of illegal fish possession. Read the rest here 20:09

Tappan Zee Bridge construction may be killing sturgeon

B9318027774Z.1_20150709172325_000_GA3BA9VPB.1-0The environmental group Riverkeeper on Thursday called for a federal investigation to see if construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge is causing the deaths of endangered sturgeon in the Hudson River. The group said 100 Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon have died since the start of construction in 2012. Many of the fish, which date back to pre-historic times, were found cut in half, severed at the head or mutilated, suggesting vessel strikes,,, Read the article here 19:46

Waldoboro Maine man pleads guilty to elver violations in NY

american eelA Waldoboro man has been found guilty in New York of trafficking in poached elvers, according to that state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. Richard D. Austin, 37, has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of illegal commercialization of protected wildlife, the agency said Friday in a prepared statement. Austin and Tommy Waters Zhou, 40, of Brooklyn, New York, were arrested in March on charges of trafficking illegally harvested undersized American eels. Elvers are what American eels are called in their initial life stage,,, Read the rest here 13:10

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Dealings Criticized

A $1,000 check issued last month to Stuart Vorpahl, an East Hampton bayman, from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as reimbursement for the 1998 seizure of fluke and lobsters from his boat was closely followed by a report from the state’s inspector general’s office critical of several of the D.E.C.’s enforcement practices as they relate to the commercial fishing industry. But the report itself is also coming under fire, both for its substance and for the lengthy delay in its issuance. Read the rest here 10:08

Long Island Fishermen Say Governor And Investigators Failed Them – Violating fishermen’s basic rights for decades

Commercial fishermen this week scoffed at a long-awaited report on an investigation of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, saying the report was a hollow failure by State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott’s office to hold the DEC accountable for “institutionalized violations of fishermen’s basic rights for decades,” said an attorney who has represented several fishermen from East Hampton and Hampton Bays. Read the rest here 14:55

After scathing report, NY DEC changes policies on fish seizures, records

One of the main problems highlighted in the report dealt with restitutions. Ms. Leahy Scott’s investigation found DEC officers frequently seized catches when they suspected wrongdoing, such as a haul above the state limit or a lack of proper permits, per their common practice. However, the department failed to reimburse fishermen who were acquitted of charges or won court cases until her investigation began. In one instance, a Montauk fisherman was reimbursed last week after a $1,000 take that the DEC took from his boat. The incident occurred 17 years ago. Read the rest here 12:38

New York Commercial Fishermen blast new Department of Environmental Conservation report

Commercial fishermen blast new state reportCommercial fishing advocates Thursday lambasted a new state report that criticizes New York’s top fisheries regulator.  At a rally beside a commercial fishing trawler in Hampton Bays, two state lawmakers joined several dozen fishermen and fisherwomen and an attorney for fishermen in blasting the report as a “whitewash.”  The report by the state inspector general, released on Wednesday, said the state Department of Environmental Conservation failed to process years of paperwork that fishermen are required to fill out every time they fish; DEC enforcement officers were improperly directing plea agreements, leading to possible “coercion” of defendants, and that property seized in arrests wasn’t returned after fishermen’s acquittals. Read the rest here 21:35:

“I’ll be goddamned,” – Stuart Vorpahl Reimbursed By State For Seized Fish, 17 Years Later

“I’ll be goddamned,” ny state reemberces stuart vorpahlOn a hot August afternoon 17 years ago, a state Department of Environmental Conservation officer, dressed in peat green fatigues, strode up to the side of Stuart Vorpahl’s trawler as it berthed along the bulkhead of Gann Road commercial docks in East Hampton. On the decks of his boat, the Polly & Ruth, Mr. Vorpahl had seven cartons worth of freshly caught fluke, iced and ready for market. “But to no avail,” Mr. Vorpahl would write in his captain’s log later that day, “when I got to the dock, DEC seized the fish [and] arrested me again for fishing without a license.” Read the rest here 14:43

Case against East End fisherman Bill Reed, charged with overfishing, thrown out

A Southampton judge on Friday dismissed a case mid-trial against an East End commercial fisherman charged with overfishing after he returned to port to avoid a storm. The case against Reed fell apart after Matthew Foster, an enforcement officer for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and DEC official Steve Heins acknowledged on the witness stand that a “safe harbor” provision the agency uses to grant exceptions to its quota rules was “general practice” but never “written policy.” Read the rest here 16:40

SAFETY FIRST! Southampton commercial fisherman charged with exceeding state fluke limits

A Southampton commercial fisherman charged last week with exceeding state fluke limits by 630 pounds had informed authorities of his need to return to port because of bad weather, and will fight the charges, his lawyer said Wednesday. Bill Reed, who owns two commercial fishing boats at the Shinnecock Commercial Dock in Hampton Bays, said he encountered bad weather during a Jan. 6 fluke fishing trip 50 miles from the Long Island, and made a decision to return home. Read the rest here 20:18

New York: Bill Enabling Easier Transfer of Family Fishing Licenses is Now Law

The new law amends the environmental conservation law allowing the Department of Environmental Conservation to transfer certain commercial fishing licenses to immediate family members in cases where a license holder dies prior to transferring his or her license. Read more here 11:17

New York: Fishermen losing patience with probe of state regulators

The New York inspector general’s office plans to conclude its two-year probe of a state fisheries regulator “imminently,” but fishermen and their advocates awaiting long-promised action say they are losing patience. Three state legislators from Long Island have written to Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott, noting that they first requested a probe of the state Department of Environmental Conservation in May 2012, and that “no report has been issued.” <Read more here> 16:11

Commercial fishermen agrees to pay $15,000 fine for illegally spearfishing

A commercial boating captain and his crew pleaded guilty to illegally spearfishing in waters off Valiant Rock in Block Island Sound. Captain Christopher Miller must pay a fine of $15,000 and participate in community service, state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Regional Director Peter A. Scully announced today. Read more here 13:46

Former Passamaquoddy representative charged with poaching elvers in New York

BDNA high-profile member of the Passamaquoddy Tribe is one of eight people who have been charged with felony elver poaching in New York, according to an official with that state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. Read more here 15:17

Locals reflect on dying industry as Sound closes to fall lobster harvesting

T0912_Lobster_cover_CM_C.jpgA third-generation lobsterman, Matt DeMaula has patrolled Long Island Sound alongside his father and uncles for more than two decades. When he thinks back to his early days in the profession, the Mattituck native can recall some remarkable fall seasons. A combination of rising water temperatures, low dissolved oxygen, pesticide runoff and nitrogen loading proved too much for the crustaceans, causing an extreme die-off in 1999, said Emerson Hasbrouck, senior marine environmental issues educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. [email protected]  10:47