Lawsuit filed against the ASMFC an NMFS by New York Boatmen
Central Islip ,
New York - The United Boatmen filed a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Central Islip .
The United Boatmen is a trade organization representing the interests of party fishing boat and charter fishing boat owners and operators throughout the coastal districts of New York and New Jersey . They are joined in the suit by co-plaintiffs Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), New York Fishing Tackle Trade Association (NYFTTA), New York Marine Trades Association (NYMTA), and Capt. Patrick Focazio (the "Lady J V") of Point Lookout, New York .
Capt. Dennis Kanyuk, President of United Boatmen/ New York stated, "This lawsuit has been a long time coming. NMFS and ASMFC have been ratcheting down the fluke quota for years now, with no regard for the enormous economic impacts these reductions have on small businesses in the area. On Long Island alone, we have lost nearly twenty percent of our party boat fleet over the last seven or eight years due to these increasingly strict regulations. The worst part of it is that the fluke stocks are rebuilding at a phenomenal pace, and according to NMFS' own figures have reached roughly seventy percent of the rebuilding target. Yet, it seems that the more fish we have in the area, the less we're allowed to catch."
Jim Donofrio, executive director of RFA explains, "The suit is based on a few different issues. First, the NMFS didn't use the "Best Science Available" as required by federal law. They've partially based these reductions on highly questionable survey data that even NMFS' own officials have publicly advised against using for the purpose of setting quotas. Second, although federal agencies are required to examine economic impacts whenever they publish a rule, in this case they've all but ignored the extent of economic pain that will result. NMFS basically said "we don't think there will be any decrease in the demand for recreational fishing due to this rule, but we don't have any hard information to back up our statement."
John Mantione, spokesmen for NYFTTA, added, "NMFS didn't take into account any impacts whatsoever on the bait and tackle industry! Even though we've submitted economic statistics for the
New York bait and tackle industry year after year, we didn't even get mentioned in the final rule. It's as if we don't exist!"
United Boatmen hopes to convince the Court to block enforcement of the rule before the '06 season begins in May.