John Maniscalco, DEC staff member, addressed the Council on 2012 tautog regulations. He noted that the most current required mortality reduction for 2012 51.6% (from 2011 levels). At its September 2012 meeting, the Council had recommended the following suite of recreational measures for tautog in 2012:
If a mortality reduction of 53% was required: an open season of 08 October – 24 November; a 4-fish possession limit and a 16” minimum size limit
If a mortality reduction of 46.4% was required: a split open season (17 January – 30 April; 9 October – 9 December); 4-fish possession limit and a 16” minimum size limit.
Mr. Maniscalco commented that the final required reduction (51.6%) was slightly less than the 53% reduction already dealt with by the Council. The Department will secure the difference by adding a few days to the open season. From the various open season options debated at previous meetings by the Council, he asked it to indicate a preference for either 08 October – 24 November (Option R22) or 15 October – 11 December (Option R23). Mr. Hoffman asked what happened to the winter fishery everyone had once agreed was a good idea? DEC’s Ms. Sandy Dumas said that this option was only viable in the instance of a 46% reduction option, based on a linear catch curve model. However, that option never made it to the table and it was never approved.
To clarify, Mr. Gilmore said that initially, in May, the target was a 53% reduction but when the public meetings came about each state went off in different directions so, at the end of the day, the one consistent decision was to use a new metric, the Chapman Robson catch curve, which made all the previous options obsolete. Councilors Witek and Dearborn restated their feeling that there are no fish available in the colder months and fishing days in October are extremely valuable and shouldn’t be given up.
The Council couldn’t vote because a quorum of members was not present, but the majority of the Councilors present felt that Option R22 was best, making the open season 08 October – 26 November. Mr. Gilmore said this will be in New York’s proposal to ASMFC.