Speaking with John Maniscalco

New York Fishing Regulations for 2021

New York Fishing Regulations for 2021 will not see many changes in seasons and bag limits. There is a mandatory circle hook requirement being enacted to all coastal states using bait for striped bass. The details have yet to be hammered out.

I’d like to thank John and the NYSDEC for doing this episode and I look forward to bringing you more of what the work they do. You can hear this podcast in its entirety at www.newyorkfishingpodcast.com

Mr. John Maniscalco:
A lot of the regulations that, you know, our anglers ultimately experience come down as a result of interstate fisheries mandates, and uh, it is DC’s job to, uh, take whatever’s being imposed by uh, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, or the Mid-Atlantic Council and the federal government, and, and implement them in New York state in such a way to, you know, allow our anglers, um, access to the fishery while at the same time achieving, achieving the fishery management plan goals, which is usually to you know, limit, limit harvest, limit fishing mortality, that kind of thing.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Um, so it’s not always easy, uh, and I understand the process can be frustrating for anglers, but, uh, we do do our best to, um, listen to all parties and find that, that middle path.

George Scocca:
Okay.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Um, so I, I’m currently the, the bureau chief of marine fisheries at New York State DEC. Um, I started my career, uh, with horseshoe crabs and lobsters and then, uh, I’ve moved onto fin fish and currently you know, again, oversee all fisheries with the exception of, uh, shell fish like clams and oysters.

George Scocca:
Oh okay. So, you wouldn’t, uh, know too much about the, uh, die off of the botanic bay scallops. Did they have a harvest? I don’t believe they did.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
No, unfortunately, we’ve had two years of, uh, very severe scallop die offs, but that’s not my area of expertise so-

George Scocca:
Okay. No problem.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
As far as cause and you know, um, you know, and what steps we’ll be taking, that would be better left for someone else to answer.

George Scocca:
Okay, great. So you know, every year we witness or we experience changes in our fisheries regs and you know, we know that it’s, that it’s all, you know, to try and save and protect our fisheries and to share them equitably between, uh, recreational and commercial fisheries. Um, it’s not the easiest thing in the world. (laughs) I mean it’s tough to count fish, you know? So, uh, even though the, uh, managers do their best, it’s, it feels like it, it’s trying to be micromanaged I feel in some ways, there’s a lot of regs that are always changing and, um, but, recently I’m not seeing that so I… in the… so what, so what do we see like coming forward? I mean are we still gonna be at the three blue, uh, blue fish limit? Do we see any changes this year, John, uh, regarding rec fisheries? Uh, minus the stripe bass hook thing. We, we can talk about that in a few.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Yeah, George, a couple of points. So we do have fisheries that seem, uh, recreational fisheries that seem to change every year and those are usually, uh, fisheries that are associated with a, uh, federally managed plan so that’s your, you know, your fluke, your scalloped black sea bass for example. Those change, uh, certainly in the past almost on a, on an annual basis. Um, then you have other fisheries that are managed through the commission and usually changes for species that are managed by the commission only happen as a result of the stock assessment, which might only happen every two, three or four years.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
So an example of that would be winter flounder or tautog, right? Uh- we don’t change our tautog rules on an annual basis. We only change them when the, uh, assessment comes out and we have to, you know, change fishing mortality, for example.

George Scocca:
Right.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Um, so for 2021, um, they’re… you know, so most, you know, most of our fishery decisions are, are data driven, um, and COVID impacted a lot of things including, uh, data collection on, on recreational harvest especially. So, um, many of your anglers, your listeners are probably familiar with, um, [inaudible 00:03:55]. And there’s a catch sampling aspect of that program that didn’t run, uh, during May and June, certainly in New York and many other states. Um, New York State did resume some kind of limited sampling, um, later in the year, maybe starting in June. Uh, some other states did not even resume, uh, sampling at all for 2020.

George Scocca:
Right.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
So because there is no data and because we don’t have any, um, you know, dependable estimate of what harvest was, um, the feds have, um, basically allowed status quo measures. So New York State, uh, will not be making any changes to its recreational [inaudible 00:04:36] or the fishing regulations and most states on the east coast would be making only, uh, you know, at, at most, uh, very, very small modifications but most states will be maintaining status quo or near status quo.

George Scocca:
Okay, great. Now, um, I also understand, I could be wrong about this, but, uh, I thought I read that the tautog, uh, commercial, uh, tag system that was, uh, supposed to go into effect did not or it was or it was put off or something because of COVID. Am I right about that or?

Mr. John Maniscalco:
That’s correct. So, uh, New York state was hoping to implement a commercial tautog tagging program, um, which is ASMFC mandated in 2020. Um, but, we were kind of getting prepared to launch that tautog tagging program, uh, and then decided to postpone it because of the many complications related to COVID. So both, uh, from the DEC staffing side of things and also trying to limit, you know, what is a, you know, ultimately unnecessary contact between, uh, commercial fisherman and, and, and staff, uh, at a time, you know, when we didn’t… so we have a better understanding of COVID now but certainly, uh, March and April, COVID was very, very scary and there were lots of things that were unknown about it. And so for the safety of everybody involved, we decided to postpone it.

George Scocca:
I totally get that.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Uh, we just… yeah, yeah, we fully expect, um… you know, we’re, we’re moving forward with, uh, implementing it for 2021, but, um, we did postpone it last year.

George Scocca:
So, uh, can you explain a little bit, uh, to our listeners exactly what that, um, how that tag system’s gonna work? And I just wanna add a little flavor, I think you know that, uh, I’m a staunch, uh, supporter actually for hook and line only on black fish. Um, I’ve always wanted to get a count of the pots, how many are set. If, if you could give us an idea on… I mean I know that, you know, this tagging program wo- work well if it’s similar to the stripe bass program, but if you can explain to the folks, uh, exactly how it works, that would be great.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Sure, I mean, there are concerns about the commercial tautog, uh, fishery in terms of, uh, under reported landings, um, and also, outright poaching. Um, uh, so, tautog is a little bit unique in that the vast majority, the value for the tautog fisher lies in the live market. Um, and so, what the hope is for this tag program is that fisherman will have to accurately report their tag usage because the tags they, they receive the tags through DEC, so in order to continue fishing, they have to actively report on the usage of their tags. Uh, and then secondly, it’s hope that it will aid law enforcement and that when, uh, law enforcement goes into a… any kind of a venue that does sell live tautog, every tautog in those tanks is gonna have to have a tag through its cheek. And, so obviously the trick here is finding a tag that, um, could be put in fish, uh, and, uh, you know, would not affect them la- you know, would not affect the mortality-

George Scocca:
Right.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Uh, and allow healthy fish to continue to [inaudible 00:07:55] lives. So that’s the kind of, uh, the idea behind, um, this live tagging program for commercial tautog.

George Scocca:
Okay, um, now that we’re on this subject, um, I know it… I always wonder why, uh, you know, I see photos, I got one the other day of a live tautog at 24.99 a pound and you know, they’re in tanks and they’re being sold openly. And I get you guys are undermanned, um, but you know, it’s right there out in the open. Uh, you know, is there ever any consequence brought against these, these restaurants themselves or… I mean, not that you turn the other eye, I know the, to turn the other cheek or whatever, but I, I know that, you know, it’s happening. We all know it. I mean I see pictures every day of it. Um, and I was wondering, you know, why they can get away with doing something like that continuously?

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Well, George, I mean some of those fish that are caught are, were legally caught and they’re being legally sold.

George Scocca:
Right. Right.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Um, if they’re undersized or you know, moving into the future, if they are not tagged, well that would be a, an illegally caught and illegally sold fish and I… and that fish could be confiscated, um, and yes, so you know, summons can be issued. Um-

George Scocca:
Okay.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
So, so, I mean again the, the goal… one of the major goals of the tag program is to aid enforcement in these kind of situations.

George Scocca:
Okay. Uh, one, one more on black fish and then, uh, we’ll move on. So I’ve been an advocate for years, as I said before, um, with getting a count or a permit system in place, similar to what you had with, uh, lobster, uh, to find out who has pot… I don’t need to know the person, just need to know how many pots people have. You know, they should be marked. Um, you know, again, like lobster, I, it’s just the way I feel. I feel we need a count of pots. I mean, we all heard the stories of the part time school teacher who’s (laughs) uh, got 1000 pots set. You know, they’re only allowed… I mean most of these guys you know, you talk to, they have hundreds of pots. They’re only allowed 25 fish in a day. You know, so why do they need so many pots? Has, has the department ever considered limiting, uh, the number of pots? I guess now with the tags you don’t need to do that, but you know, I, I really feel that we need to get a count on the pots, uh, so we can get an idea, you know, on exactly how many fish are being targeted.

George Scocca:
And, and, and the other thing is, I mean, it’s a good way to, uh, for DEC possibly to generate some money. I mean they, they should have a permit on those… they should be paying to take those fish, the same exact way they, they pay for striped bass. So, uh, at least that’s the way I feel and I, I, you know, do, do you plan on getting ahold of these pots and, and you know, so we know who’s pots are who’s and… or is that not, uh, in the outlook right now?

Mr. John Maniscalco:
So, um, I mean, fisherman have to report how many pots they’re using on their vessel reports.

George Scocca:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Um, and regulations also require that fish pots be identified and buoyed. So if a, a pot does not have, uh, identification with that, you know, fisherman’s, fisherma- uh, license number, then that pot is not properly marked and if that pot does not have a buoy then it is not properly marked. Uh, and, and our regulations do require, require that. In terms of, uh, limiting the number of pots, uh, each fisherman fishes, that’s not something we’ve, um, you know, seriously considered at this point and I will also add that, you know, pots can be used to capture other species, not just tautog, so-

George Scocca:
Right.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
So, um, 25 fish only really applies to tautog fisheries. Um, black sea bass has trip limits, um, on a daily basis, uh, 50-70 pounds, maybe a little la- you know, larger in the future. [inaudible 00:12:20] has trip limits of six to 800 pounds a day. Um, so-

George Scocca:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mr. John Maniscalco:
You have to consider other fisheries that those pots can be used for not just, not just black fish alone.

George Scocca:
Oh okay. I got it. All right, so, so pretty much things are gonna be the same this year, uh, outside of this new, uh, circle hook requirement, uh, which came down from ASMFS. So I just wanna talk a little bit about it. I mean, you know, I can see, it’s great to see that, uh, you know, you listen to the people and when the letters went out regarding the, uh, tube and worm fisherman that, you know, were really concerned and because they’re not gut hooking any fish. Um, so, you know, I saw that, I saw you guys were listening. I said it, I don’t know if you checked my website, but I said it from the beginning, I’m like, “Look, they’re listening. Uh, you need to let them know, you know, what you want or what’s bothering you and, and they’re gonna respond.”

George Scocca:
So I see now there’s like a requirement that, uh, they’re gonna allow the, uh, the tube, you know, the tube and reg- you know, J hook, uh, uh, fishery, but I did (laughs) wanna talk just a little bit about the, uh, the choice of dates that are not allowed, that the state, uh, decided on. Um, first question, did you just pull that, like, from the fresh water? Uh, that’s what I’m wondering, because I see its got salamanders, frogs, toads, I mean nobody’s using those in salt, you know? And, and then the, the one (laughs) that really got me, of course, I mentioned, uh, is tapioca. Now, what the heck… who’s using tapioca to catch striped bass? I guess it must be like some kind of fishery (laughs) somewhere. Can, can you talk a little bit about the, uh, what into you deciding, uh, what can be used and what can’t be used, um, or did you kind of just take some of the stuff from fresh water and then enter a few, uh, uh, fresh waters? And there’s also one other thing I wanted to ask, what doe like scented baits are. So, um, take it away. (laughs)

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Yup, so, um, I guess, to answer your, one of your first questions is that bait definition is taken directly from fresh water. Um, and, uh, it was, you know, uh, kind of a starting place, um, so, you know, one thing you have to, you know, I hope your readers realize is, is stripped bass, you know, you can find them in the marine district.

George Scocca:
Right.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
You know, you can find them in the Hudson River.

George Scocca:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mr. John Maniscalco:
And the Hudson River does eventually transition up to, you know, essentially full, full fresh water and, uh, the marine district for stripped bass, uh, only goes up to, um, the George Washington Bridge and, uh, so that… and then you’ve got this next zone, which is, you know, further north of that.

George Scocca:
Right.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Um, all though the… so, and that’s for stripped bass management. Now, um, and the problem we’re gonna encounter is the natural bait definition for fresh water will apply, right, uh, you know, on the Hudson River.

George Scocca:
True.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
For most of its length.

George Scocca:
Never thought of that.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Where stripped bass is fished.

George Scocca:
Yeah.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
And what we’re gonna encounter now is, uh, you know, potentially a different bait definition, um, you know, as soon as you cross the bridge, right? So while that’s a nice clear line, uh, from a enforcement perspective, uh, that’s one of the things that will drive an angler crazy, that they can use one kind of bait here but on the other side of that bridge, they’re not gonna be able to use that bait.

George Scocca:
Oh, I can hear it now. (laughs)

Mr. John Maniscalco:
So not only was it… you know, it was an easy first step to take the same, to take the same bait definition, but it also would have helped enforcement and also kind of remove any kind of confusion. Now, uh, we do listen, um, and the regulation that, you know, thus far is a proposed rule and the point of a proposed rule is to allow the public to give public comment and we will be taking public comment on the proposed rule through March 8th.

George Scocca:
Okay.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
So if your listeners are interested, by all means they can provide us with input on what they think should and should not be included in the definition of natural bait, you know, in the marine district. You know, specifically for stripped bass, but just be aware that if we ever have to go to any kind of a bait definition, uh, in the marine district, uh, you know, moving forward, you know, it’s likely that we’re not gonna want to have one definition for, you know, weak fish and one definition for stripped bass. So, um, but we certainly, uh, I think we’ve heard a lot from our anglers. I assume [inaudible 00:17:26] has heard a lot from coastal anglers. Uh, we, uh, fully intend to, you know, incorporate the feedback we get from ASMFC and from, from New York State’s, uh, you know, recreational [inaudible 00:17:37] anglers when we kind of come up with our final rule.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Um, now, I did not know the basis for tapioca, George-

George Scocca:
(laughs)

Mr. John Maniscalco:
But I did ask some of my, uh, my biologists who work more in fresh water, uh, and they did provide me with some information. So tapioca pearls, um, can be kind of soaked and cooked and to become somewhat tough.

George Scocca:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mr. John Maniscalco:
And, uh, they can also be impregnated with color to the point that they look like fish eggs.

George Scocca:
Okay.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
And so they’re definitely used in fresh or [inaudible 00:18:10] have been used in the past, um, in fresh water fishing for, for things like trout. Um, so, there is a use for them certainly in fresh water fishing but, uh, I agree that it’s questionable whether anyone would fish with, uh, you know, tapioca pearls all that much in salt water.

George Scocca:
Amazing. All these years I’m doing this, I had no idea people use tapioca as bait. Never. (laughs) So, um, you know, I’d, I’d like to take a minute or two, um, to discuss the… you know, the burden which your… I don’t know, you know, uh, how much you wanna talk about enforcement, this’ll be up to you, but I mean, how many, uh, offices, especially now with COVID, um, ha- how many offices are, you know, protecting our thousand miles of shoreline? When I saw protecting, doing the best just that they possibly can. I mean, you know, if you had the National Guard lining all of Long Island, you still couldn’t stop people from, from breaking these laws. You know, they’re… I think you’ll agree, they’re mostly, you know, it’s up to the fisherman and, um, even though, um, should they break the law, they should pay for it, most of ’em don’t. You know? Um, but, but I’m curious as to, um, the situation with enforcement now in this day and age of, uh, COVID.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
So, um, I would say that dedicated marine officers have always been, uh, you know, few and far between. Um, and, but they’ve also always been assisted by what we might say is the more general regional officers. So marine resources might have, you know, anywhere from… somewhere in the order of four people dedicated to marine enforcement, but then the regional officers would assist them.

George Scocca:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Um, so, and, I, you know, you’re correct, that’s not a whole lot given the, the amount of coast line. Now, under COVID, uh, you know, certainly enfor- power enforcement officers, just like many other parts of DEC and many other state agencies, you know, a lot of people are, um, volunteering on, on things related to COVID relief. So, you know, whether it’s… so the officers might be working security, uh, and that kind of thing at some of our COVID testing and COVID vaccination sites. Um, and so-

George Scocca:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Yeah. So, uh, what was already stretched is even, you know, further stretched under COVID.

George Scocca:
Yeah, it, it kind of feels, I mean, with what we’re dealing with today and you know, you and I talking about circle hooks and bait and you know, five years ago, it probably really be a big deal but, uh, today, it just isn’t as big a deal, but I, I will tell ya, uh, I’m sure you’ll agree, there is no better stress relief than fishing. You know, to get out, get out in the air, you know, uh, can’t wait for this winter to be over and, uh, so we can get back out there. Um, John, I do wanna ask you, I don’t know if this is in your realm or if you have any opinion on this, um, but the, the Long Island Sound is obviously going through some type of a change. I’ve fished it now my whole entire life and I’m very old. (laughs) And, um, so, and I’ve seen it change, you know? Uh, years ago there were no fluke there. You know, then for 30 years, we had great fluke and now they seem to be disappearing and more sea bass are moving in.

George Scocca:
Uh, does the department have, or do you, or is there… do, do you folks look at, at this change as its happening, um, you know, do you see it, do you… you know, take that into account when making regulations or, um… you know, like right now, the fluke fishery in the Long Island Sound, it seems to be going away, you know? And everything I see is the water temperatures jumped like a degree in the past decade or something, um, on the bottom. So I, I was just wondering if you had an- any input on that.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Taking that into consideration when we’re crafting regulations, I mean, you have to realize that we’re crafting regulations for all of New York and that’s not just Lond Island Sound. So, um, I can’t say we can take into consideration changes we’re seeing specifically in Long Island Sound when we’re crafting regulations. Um, but certainly we’re, you know, we’re aware that, you know, the, the ecosystem in general is changing and, uh, you know, some of those things might be, uh, felt more sharply in Long Island Sound. Temperatures are certainly rising. Uh, so my experience fluke fishing in Long Island Sounds has not been great from a, a keeper perspective, but I’ve pulled up lots and lots of shorts, um, from Long Island Sound, certainly. So, fluke is still using Long Island Sound. Um, uh, but, it, you know, it might be a little harder to come across a keeper and you know, without doing some, you know, real analysis, it’s, it’s difficult to kind of separate what’s going on with the fluke population over all, uh, with how that might differ from, you know, that segment of the fluke population that’s choosing to use Long Island Sound.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Um, now, we certainly… Connecticut has that, uh, [inaudible 00:23:40] survey that they’ve been doing in Long Island Sound for a long time and, uh, they did do some, uh, analysis of that data. There’s some, uh, published articles on the work that shows that, you know, it’s going through a, you know, kind of a regime shift, going from a cooler water collection species to a warmer water collection of species. Now, fluke is, you know, generally considered in that warmer water collection species, um, and like I said, I’ve seen a lot of shorts.

George Scocca:
Right.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Uh, I haven’t had a lot of success finding keepers but, um, certainly, uh, there’s been a lot of scup in [inaudible 00:24:15]. There’s been more sea bass than ever in Long Island Sound. Um, so-

George Scocca:
Absolutely. (laughs)

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Yeah, so, you know, so things, things are certainly changing. Um, there’s been a lot of… plenty of bait in Long Island Sound. So why, exactly why fluke are a little hard to come by I can’t tell you, but I don’t think it’s too attached to water temperature-

George Scocca:
Okay.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Um, but, uh, you know, I really don’t know for certain.

George Scocca:
All right. So, we basically covered, you know, most of our fish. I mean, what I see in the sound is like a gazillion Porgys. (laughs) They’re like everywhere. Um, and I, you know, look, I, I caught some nice fluke, but it seems like that second and third wave that, that we’re used to seeing, you know, I don’t know, maybe, uh, maybe they’re going somewhere else.

George Scocca:
So one, one other thing I wanna talk about. The, uh, with the flounder, a lot of people, you know, um, ’till this day, it’s still their favorite fishery. You know, at one time, it was the number one targeted fish, you know, in our waters, right? So, um, the off shore fishery, according to what I see, uh, with the commercials, they, they seem to be doing fine, those fish off shore. Um, do you have any clue as to what’s happening in shore with, with these flounder and, um, you know, is there any, any plan in the future to take further eggs or… I mean, I don’t know how much more you, how much more you can do. What are we down to one, two fish? So, um, anything on that, John?

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Uh, so I’m not aware of any, um, inner state mandates, uh, upcoming, you know, to change. I mean winter flounder, that stock assessment has been kind of bouncing around, you know, uh, between 13 and 16% of kind of your target bio mass for… in, you know, southern New England at least, for, for awhile now and, and like you said, the ocean fishery seems to be doing better than the in shore fishery. Um, now, uh, I guess, and I’m not sure how much your listeners are away but you know, so while we considered the southern New England stock, you know, there’s a lot of reason to believe that the fish that live in the bays are genetically distinct from the fish that live off in the ocean. And then there’s also kind of a, a third continuum that actually moves in between the bay and the ocean so-

George Scocca:
That’s interesting.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
You’ve got, uh, a really complicated population structure, uh, and, uh, Dr. Micheal Frisk, uh, is a, he’s a researcher at, you know, Stony Brook University’s, uh, school of marine and atmospheric sciences and, um, you know, so he’s been kind of documenting this complex population structure, uh, and you know, looking at the genetics of it, tagging fish and seeing where they go and when they return. Um, and so, you know, we know that fishing pressure was incredible in the 80s, right?

George Scocca:
(laughs) Ridiculous.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
And certainly played it’s role in, in knocking things down. And then you kind of have, you do have this changing environment. You have warming water. Um, you might have some, you know, pollution issues and, and all the habitat damage and stressors that have prevented that, uh, that, those in shore stocks from, from recovering. Um, uh, so yeah, and, and you kind of noted, yeah, New York State’s currently at two fish and a 60 day season, um, uh, and that is incredibly restrictive and I’m not, uh, not insensitive to that fact and I also know that, uh, founder fishing has a special place in many people’s hearts. But, um, I think in order to kind of continue to protect those little remnants of, um, our bay populations that we do have, I think you have to, you know, uh, continue to keep those, those regulations really, really strict. Um-

George Scocca:
I’m with you.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
You know, and even, even the fisheries that operate in the ocean, you know, at least in New York State, you’ve got, you still have a very low trip limit for commercial fisherman and you still have those same 60 day and two fish limits. Um, and it’s all kind of, uh, protecting the remnants that we still find in our base.

George Scocca:
Yeah, yeah, I totally, I totally agree and you know, not up to me but, uh, so the thing I wanted to ask you about is bunker. Now I don’t know if you, you’re probably aware that, you know, we passed that bill years ago, worked really hard to get the reduction boats out, um, and now we’re seeing, I mean I (laughs) I’ve never seen so much bait. Every year and class of bunker that you could think of, we’ve got whales that are, you know, in 30 foot of water sometimes, right off the beach. (laughs) Um, we’re seeing things that we’ve, we’ve really never seen, but I’m hearing rumblings in the background that there may be too many bunker and when I hear that, that scares me. So I was wondering if the department is looking at anything because I know there was a couple fish kills, even though they’re natural, protect the history. (laughs) Those fish kills have happened forever.

George Scocca:
Um, but I was wondering if the department is looking at anything or… I mean, I’m hoping that the bill we put together kind of restricts it but, uh, anything on that?

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Uh, so, I… I haven’t heard, at least in the fishery circles, anyone suggest that there’s too many bunker. Um, you know, as you know, not only, uh, do the whales and a lot of the marine mammals we have around here, and the sharks depend on bunker, stripped bass also depend on bunker.

George Scocca:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mr. John Maniscalco:
And, uh, the ASMFC recently moved to manage bunker, uh, kind of on a multi species basis considering the needs of things like stripped bass, uh, and that recent 10% cut to the commercial harvest of bunker was done in order to kind of allow the bunker biomass to, you know-

George Scocca:
Replenish. Yeah.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Sustain that level that would support a, a larger stripped bass population. So, uh, I haven’t, I haven’t heard anything about, uh, too many bunker.

George Scocca:
Okay.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Um, I think ne- New York state, you know, so not only do you have this ma- you know, you have a really large bunker population right now and you also have these changing ocean conditions that I don’t necessary know if we fully understand exactly why but, uh, New York state’s been a wash in bunker, uh, and it has led to incredible wild life viewing opportunities. Um-

George Scocca:
Oh yeah.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
You know, everything. So I think that in, in general it’s a pa- it’s a positive, um, but yes, uh, when you have a lot of bunker together, uh, and maybe things stay warm enough that those bunker don’t leave, um, you know, late in the season, then you get the other side of things where you occasionally you have fish kills and you know, and whether that’s because the fish are getting too cold or whether they’re, you know, they’re packed together and any time you pack a lot of fish to- together, you have the potential for, you know, diseases to spread. Um, so we have had some fish kills and people certainly don’t like seeing, uh, dead fish on their beaches, but, you know, it’s largely part of, uh, some natural processes and we haven’t seen anything, uh, that, uh, is alarming on, at a population scale, so.

George Scocca:
Okay, well that’s, that sounds good. Uh, well John, look I really wanna thank you for joining me here. Um, I never look forward to going to any of your hearings. No, no offense. (laughs) I think the last one I was at, I got up to speak and remember the light went on fire over my head and I thought that was, uh-

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I remember that.

George Scocca:
(laughs)

Mr. John Maniscalco:
(laughs)

George Scocca:
I thought that was a sign from above. I’m like, “Okay, I better get out of here.” But, um-

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Yup.

George Scocca:
So, (laughs) and you know, I gotta hand it to you, I don’t know how you do it, but, uh, I, I really do appreciate the, this call and you updating our fellow New York anglers on, uh, what’s, what’s coming up and, in the stripped bass circle hook. Oh wait, one last thing.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Yup.

George Scocca:
So I’m gonna give you a, a scenar- look, there’s a billion scenarios, but I’m gonna give you, gonna give you one scenario. So I’m out fluke fishing, right? I have a buck tail with a piece of squid on it. I catch a slot bass. What happens? (laughs) Am I supposed to throw him back or can I put him in the boat? (laughs) You know, these are the things are the things we always run into in fisheries management. So, uh-

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Yeah, so, uh, I mean our regulations do address that scenario.

George Scocca:
Okay.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Uh, la- I’d say the proposed rule addresses that scenario.

George Scocca:
Okay.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
And right now the proposed rule says if you catch a bass using bait on a j hook or, or, a non circle hook we’ll say-

George Scocca:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mr. John Maniscalco:
You should release that fish. That’s what that says right now.

George Scocca:
Okay.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Um, and, and it was written that way to kind of aid enforcement. Otherwise, everyone’s gonna be going for fluke or blue fish or something else other than stripped bass-

George Scocca:
Absolutely.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Catching bass, and that allows them to keep it. And the goal, the rule, or at least, you know, our intentions in implementing the rule was always to aid enforcement. Now, ASMFC, um, is gonna be considering that exact question. How-

George Scocca:
Okay.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Are we gonna handle the, uh, legal bass caught on a non circle hook with bait? Uh, and I think that it’s likely that we will take whatever guidance they, uh, provide on that issue pretty seriously. Um, but you know, right now the proposal would require you to throw it back. We were challenged that, on that point at our Marine Resource Advisory Council. There are other commissioners on ASMFC concerned with that exact issue and so we’re de- definitely gonna be looking to ASMFC for some guidance on that because what you have to balance there is the enforceability of the rule with, you know, uh, angler satisfaction. Uh, so we’ll, we’ll see how that turns out, but, um, you know, if you have an opinion on the matter or if your, your listeners have an opinion on the matter, please submit comments. And so… because we will be, we will be considering a lot of comments when it comes to, you know, how the final rule looks on this.

George Scocca:
Oh that’s great. I’m, I’m really glad, glad we, we got to that point. So, all right, John, once again, I wanna thank you, I wanna thank the DEC for the, uh, fine job that you guys are doing in these tough conditions. Uh, I’d like to also thank all, and I know many, which you know that I do, that are out there right now working, uh, some of your COVID facilities. Um, and I wanna thank you once again for, uh, joining us here and I look forward, uh, to doing this again next year, or maybe before. (laughs) But, uh, I, I really appreciate the access, John, I appreciate everything, uh, the feedback that you’ve given here. Because anglers really don’t often, you know, get, get to hear it and if you go to a hearing, you really, it, it, it’s tough to get anything out of ’em.

George Scocca:
So, um, but I, again, I appreciate it, I appreciate, uh, you taking the time, and, uh, oh one more thing, so when is your, uh, new building going to be finished? You know, I keep my boat right there in the Nissequogue.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Oh yeah, so, uh, we expect to be moving in, I think, right now I’ve heard somewhere June-July.

George Scocca:
Oh wow.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Um, you know, uh, yeah.

George Scocca:
That’s moving. Well good, I’ll have to stop in and say hello. (laughs)

George Scocca:
I’ll knock on the door. I’ll wave as I’m driving by with some fish out the window.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
(laughs) Okay.

George Scocca:
(laughs) All right, John.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Stay safe.

George Scocca:
Thank you.

Mr. John Maniscalco:
Yeah, thank you.

George Scocca:
Bye bye.

Thanks, good to see that. I wonder if I could simply add the unused, boiled, colored tapioca pearls to my trail mix...
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