Sheepshead Fishermen Braving Tough Waters
In South Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay, David “Captain Dave” Paris, 61, is among the last of the lifelong fishing captains. Piloting his boat from the bay into the Atlantic, he’s part of a legacy that extends to the 1800s, when Sheepshead Bay was a fishing village. Paris owns and operates the Captain Dave II, a 70-foot charter fishing vessel that makes twice-daily runs for customers: from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 12 a.m.
In his 51-year career, Paris has seen Sheepshead Bay fishing decline from 48 boat owners to its present roster of eight. He cites unfavorable New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) fishing regulations for driving his customer base to neighboring states. On the verge of unprofitability, Paris hesitates to pass the torch to Paul Paris, 17, his son and crewman. Yet, in spite of his challenges, Captain Dave still defines success as “happy customers with fish in their buckets.” Learn more at www.captdaveonline.com.
By the Numbers
Captain Dave says unfavorable New York State DEC fishing regulations, requiring higher catch sizes and lower catch limits, give recreational fishing industries in neighboring states a competitive advantage. Although vessels from neighboring states may fish the same waters as the Captain Dave II, federal law dictates that fishing regulations apply not to where a boat fishes but where a boat docks. Below is a comparative analysis for the top five near-shore ocean fish.
Minimum Catch Size for 2011
For four of the five most commonly fished species (with Striped Bass federally mandated at 28 inches), New Jersey requires the smallest size to avoid throwbacks. In all instances, New York state either ties with Connecticut or requires the largest size.
Daily Catch Limit for 2011
For three of the five most commonly fished species, New Jersey permits a substantially larger catch. These regulations are likely see their largest impact in day fishing, as Black Sea Bass, Fluke and Porgy are diurnal (active in daylight hours).
Porgy Catch Limit for the 2011 Season
Porgy (or Scup) is among the most plentiful and popular species fished during the day. With the exception of June, New Jersey permits the most Porgy catches per day. New Jersey also allocates a longer season for Porgy fishing.
Sources: New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC); New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Fish and Wildlife; Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection.