Fishermen decry Gov. Cuomo’s plan to expand artificial reefs off Long Island
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal to expand artificial reefs in the waters off Long Island is hitting a wave of opposition from commercial fishermen who say it would rob them of their fishing grounds and income.
Fishermen who spoke with News 12 say they are already dealing with extraordinary challenges brought forth by harvest limits, the shrinking economy caused by the pandemic and the loss of fishing grounds.
They say expanded artificial reefs could wipe out their industry by further limiting their access to certain fishing areas.
The artificial reef program that began in New York state back in 2018 was created by dropping discarded metal structures in concrete off Long Island's shoreline from The Rockaways to Huntington Bay, encompassing more than 3,000 acres. The state wants to double the size of the reefs.
Bonnie Brady, of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, says the move will affect the ability of commercial fishermen to fish for squid and other species, which she says they rely on to make a living.
“They are losing a huge chunk of their income by basically putting a stop sign right where they normally fish,” she says.
Malcolm McClintock, who owns two fishing trawlers, says he has already spent a long time learning where the existing artificial reefs are. He says more would create a larger problem for an industry already under stress.
“It's just another thing,” he told News 12. “One more thing piled on top of many other things. Every little bit hurts.”
State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos says he wants to sit down with commercial fishermen and “work on the placement of the reefs so that everyone is accommodated.”
The state DEC says an environmental impact statement still needs to be reviewed, as well as public commentary. Once that is completed, the expansion of the reefs is expected to happen sometime over the summer.