Two boxes of Scup processed at the plant weigh about 120 pounds which is almost two thirds of what fisherman are now allowed to haul in a day.
“Two hundred pounds. We clean the net we get 200 pounds,” said fisherman Bob Guzzo. “They’re so prevalent we’re catching them with six inch mesh which is unbelievable.”
Guzzo says he ends up having to throw back perfectly good fish so he doesn’t go over the daily catch limits. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection lowered the Scup limits on Sunday because the summer quota which is a lot less than the winter quota is already at 72 percent.
“Back in 2005 the fishery was overfished and it’s been rebuilt since then so they just want to keep it there,” said Mark Alexander with the DEEP. “I know the fishermen are frustrated because there are a lot of fish out there.”
It’s not just Scup. Fishermen say Sea Bass are also thriving.
“There’s so many out there,” said Gambardella Wholesale Seafood owner Mike Gambardella as he held up two large Sea Bass. “There’s no such thing as catching this size fish. It’s back.”
“Part of the frustration is that Scup, as well as Summer Flounder and Sea Bass are managed by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. Connecticut doesn’t have a seat on that council,” said Alexander. “We’re part of the New England Council.”
The quota for Scup is expected to be raised a little next year but it might not be enough for local fishermen making waves until federal regulations are changed. They’re now counting on Congress to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act with new science to help increase quotas.
“There’s no sense,” said Guzzo. “I don’t know what we’re saving it for.”
Guzzo says the only way to really build up a market for Scup is to have a consistent supply and price for restaurants all year long and right now with the changing catch limits that’s not happening.