County Looks to Sue Federal Government over Fishing Quotas

At a meeting on July 29, the Suffolk County Legislature unanimously decided to explore legal action against the federal government on behalf of Suffolk County’s commercial fisherman. The resolution, sponsored by Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, asks the county attorney to explore legal action against federally imposed fishing quotas.

According to Schneiderman’s office, federal quotas allow boats from neighboring states to take double the number of fish as New York State fishing vessels.

Schneiderman, of Montauk, said the quotas are based on outdated, arbitrary methodology that dates back to Congress’s 1976 passage of the Magnuson Stevens Act.

New York State collects data using the “box method,” while other states use the “weigh out” system, which has resulted in an undercount of fish landings in New York, and even sometimes attribute New York’s fish to other states, according to the legislator. Using this inaccurate historical data discriminates against New York, he says, and has “impacted the local economy, placing our fisherman at a competitive disadvantage.”

Suffolk County has the largest commercial fishing fleet in New York State.

“The state-by-state quota allocation system needs to be challenged and revisited so that New York fisherman can receive an equitable portion of the overall quota,” said Emerson Hasbrouck, a member of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and senior educator at Riverhead’s Cornell University Cooperative Extension. “The New York fishing industry was discriminately treated…in the establishment of the state-by-state quota allocation.”

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