Good news came down the pike Wednesday for recreational fisherman and charter boat companies on the East End: New York State's sea bass season will be extended through Feb. 28, giving relief to an industry that took a big hit from Superstorm Sandy.
The black sea bass season was originally scheduled to last from June 15 to Dec. 31, but many called on the state to keep the season open longer to make up for losses and missed opportunities due to the storm. After hearing concerns from the East End fishing fleet, State Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr., I-Sag Harbor, sent a letter to Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens on Dec. 20, warning that "If New York chooses not to open the season, we will lose business to neighboring states as fishermen flock to fish with out-of-state competitors."
The DEC and Gov. Andrew Cuomo listened to fishermans' concerns, and 59 days have been added to the season. The minimum size limit has been reduced to 12.5 inches from 13 inches, but the daily bag limit remains at 15 bass.
“Effective immediately, anglers can enjoy black sea bass into the new year,” Cuomo said. “Whether you are taking advantage of fishing on a charter boat or venturing on your own through the waters off of Long Island, the beginning of the winter months will be more welcome for those of us who enjoy our great natural resources and this recreational activity.”
According to Thiele's office, the extension coincides with regulations set by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which voted for the first time since 2009 to open recreational harvest of black sea bass in federal waters in January and February.
"Opening the sea bass fishery this winter will create jobs and boost the Long Island economy," Thiele said, thanking Cuomo and Martens.