This was an editorial response I wrote to Newsday on editorial writer Lawrence Levy's complete lack of knowledge on the subject affecting a huge industry on Long Island, the recreational fishing community.
Lawrence Levy Fishing For A Story?
I find it amusing on several levels Mr. Levy's editorial of September 5, 2007 (Shortening of Fluke Season was right Move). It's fairly obvious Mr. Levy doesn't have a clue what the real story is, nor does it appear he has been following the "Fluke Fiasco" from the beginning. I've known Mr. Levy since my days as "Ranger Rick," park ranger for Rockville Centre when I would sit with his young son and him at the side of McDonald Pond and help them with their fishing knowledge. I've not seen or spoken with Mr. Levy in many years now, which is too bad, because had I been he might know what he's talking about.
Mr. Levy siding with the bureaucrats and the state in his column seems to be contrarian to his normal fine repertoire of writing to say the least...and yes I've been labeled a contrarian most of my life as well, but here the two of us part ways. I've been a leader in this industry for the fluke fiasco story season after season educating the public to the real truths. Each year the recreational angler takes another hit and the short term pain Mr. Levy speaks of is really chronic in nature now.
For Mr. Levy to say anglers need to be saved from the themselves is the farthest thing from the truth as recreational anglers have been tightening our belts for nearly a decade with the promise from the DEC we're near the light at the end of the tunnel, only to be burdened with a larger size limit, lower bag limit and shorter season every year. In essence, recreational anglers are farm raising fluke for commercial fishermen to harvest with their allotted 14 inch size limit...and their 60% of the TAL (Total Allowable Landings) dictated by the federal bureaucrats.
Mr. Levy is 180 degrees off base in his comment fluke stocks are not where they should be, when in reality the federal government has said themselves, fluke stocks are at their highest levels since the 1960's, because of severe cutbacks and the northward migration of fluke calling the northeast home due to changing water temperatures and climates.
As for the total ban on striped bass Mr. Levy mentions, that was caused in part mostly to PCB's and not solely because of the shortage of striped bass. The shortage of striped bass was addressed by gradually increasing the striped bass size limit upwards to 36 inches to protect several successive breeding seasons of a "year class" and yes, the recreational angler volunteered to accept this for the sake of the almighty striper. Then the gradually decreasing size limit allowed on the back end of this marvelous comeback was objected to by, whom else? Recreational anglers that's whom! Yes, this saving of the striper worked tremendously, so well in fact the DEC was able to lower the size to 28 inches and allow two (2) fish in certain instances. Now striped bass are like fleas on a dog, they are everywhere, eating everything in sight including juvenile flounder and FLUKE.
What it comes down to; and Mr. Levy should research it first before commenting, is the data gathering system and the data gathered is flawed. This has been proven over and over to be flawed and has been admitted as flawed by the federal government themselves! But we are told it is the best science available...hogwash. In essence there are more fluke then ever before but we are allowed to keep less of them...something is very wrong.
I would like to offer Mr. Levy a free copy of my television show in which we attended these fluke meetings, then explained in detail to the public how the government collects fluke data, how severely flawed it is and how the government uses this data in direct opposition to the National Marine Fisheries Service parameters of not using this data for fisheries management. This is exactly what they end up doing anyway and now it is slowly killing the fishing industry on Long Island and the trickle down economy from buying gas at the docks and corner station to the corner deli where anglers buy sandwiches and soda. The recreational angler and the industry s gets screwed year after year by the federal bureaucrats, state agencies and the DEC.
So the next time Mr. Levy's son wants to go fishing on the JIB 6, one of my favorite boats in Captree, and he has to tell his son they're not allowed anymore, perhaps then Mr. Levy might have his facts straight and be able to understand why and then convey the "reel" story to his son...a story in which 800 words could never explain.
Richard Johnson is host of The Fishing Line Radio & Television shows and has twice won a LI Press Club award for his website www.thefishingline.com. Johnson sits on the Suffolk County Commercial & Recreational Fishing Economic Task Force.