Fishermen finding it hard to stay afloat with new Fluke restrictions

STONINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — Among the boxes at Gambardella Seafood Wholesale one of them has three Fluke in it weighing about 25 pounds

Eddie Mattei says that is literally half of what commercial fishermen are allowed to haul in a day.

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He knows all about fishing quotas and limits. His family has run Gambardella Wholesale Seafood for more than century.

On Sunday – Stonington fishermen learned their quota for Fluke per day was dropped to fifty pounds – that’s just six of the bigger Fluke. The limit had been a hundred pounds a day.

The cut was made so they don’t go over this year’s overall quota of 183-thousand pounds for Connecticut fisherman. And if that doesn’t put profits on ice – they say they just learned that annual quota goes down another 30 percent next year.

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council regulates Fluke.

“So it’s going to be chopped even more,” says Mattei.

He believes there are plenty of fish in the waters off Connecticut.

“You go talk to any of these fisherman and there’s piles and piles of fluke out there,” says Mattei who was surprised by the further cuts to their already struggling industry.

“Fish is so expensive right now and it shouldn’t be,” says Mattei.

At Seafood Etc. the prices depend on supply which they often have to get out of state because of the limits on Connecticut fisherman. They have found ways to stay afloat by diversifying. Today special in the hot food section was cheeseburger mac ‘n cheese.

Gambardella Seafood has gotten a break on rent to help the wholesaler stay open.

“We’re a family,” says Mattei. “How do I tell these guys they can’t come to work. They got families of their own. They got kids of their own.”

There are also limits on Sea Bass. Fishermen are only allowed to catch ten fish a day. They tell News8 that makes it hardly worth gassing up and sending a crew out onto the water.

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