New York Anglers Get Council Seat Back

Jim Hutchinson
July 10, 2012

On June 25th, the Commerce Department announced the appointment of 30 new and returning members to the eight regional fishery management councils that partner with NOAA’s Fisheries Service to manage ocean fish stocks.  Included among those appointees was Capt. Anthony “Tony” DiLernia of New York who was selected as a representative of the recreational fishing community to take the ‘at large’ seat the Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) which was previously held by commercial wholesaler/retailer Steven Schafer. 

“We’re thrilled to once again have an advocate for New York recreational fishermen back on the MAFMC, it’s been far too long since we’ve had someone willing to actively engage with porgy, black sea bass and fluke anglers in the region,” said Jim Hutchinson, Jr. president of the New York Sportfishing Federation

“Since his appointment in late June, Capt. DiLernia has already been in direct contact with the New York Sportfishing Federation board, its members and our local business owners, which is not something with which we’ve been accustomed in recent years,” Hutchinson said. 

According to a press release issued by NOAA Fisheries, the regional councils were established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to prepare fishery management plans for marine fish stocks in their regions. Council members represent diverse groups, including commercial and recreational fishing industries, environmental interests and academia, and carry out the act’s requirements to end overfishing, rebuild fish stocks, and manage them sustainably.

Each year, approximately one-third of the total 72 appointed members to the eight regional councils are appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. NOAA’s Fisheries Service selects members from nominations submitted by the governors of fishing states, territories and tribal governments and oversees the annual appointment process.  Designated representatives are categorized by sector in terms of whether they are recreational (‘R’), commercial (‘C’) or other (‘O’), with the ‘O’ designation granted to full-time environmentalists, scientists or members of academia.  The appointment of two new ‘R’ representatives in DiLernia, as well as Virginia’s Jeff Deem, changes the balance on the MAFMC more in favor of angling interests.

“The ‘at large’ seat now held by Capt. DiLernia has been long dominated by New York commercial fishing interests going back more than a decade, and that’s a chain that the New York Sportfishing Federation is glad to see broken,” Hutchinson said.  “There are still a few hardline environmentalists on the MAFMC deserving of the ‘O’ designation who have been overly cautious to the point of seriously infringing on recreational seasons, sizes and bag limits dramatically, but the appointment of Capt. DiLernia as well as Jeff Deem gives us hope.”

The new and reappointed council members begin their three-year terms on August 11. Council members are appointed to both obligatory seats, which are specific to a state, and at-large seats which can be filled by a person from any of the states in the council’s region. Council members may be reappointed to serve three consecutive three-year terms.

New York’s obligatory seat is currently held by Capt. John McMurray, a full-time grants administrator for the Norcross Wildlife Foundation, an advisor for Environmental Defense Fund and a part-time fly and light tackle charter captain out of Jamaica Bay.  Another ‘at large’ seat in New York is held by Laurie Nolan, a commercial tilefish boat owner from Montauk, NY.  Both McMurray’s and Nolan’s seats on the MAFMC end in 2014.