SHEEPSHEAD BAY - Decades of recreational fishing in Sheepshead Bay waters may be endangered by high fuel costs and government regulations, recreational fishermen say.

Crews who take day trippers out to sea say they are struggling under the weight of State Department of Environmental Conservation rules. This season, the regulations mandated returning fluke, or summer flounder, measuring less than 20 and one half inches. The mix of differing state laws - in New Jersey fish only need to be 18 inches long to keep - coupled with high fuel costs is making it hard for many decades-old businesses to stay afloat. Fuel costs can add up to as much as thousands of dollars a week, one captain says.

Many captains say they believe the piers could fill back up if the area were better known to tourists and even New Yorkers. In the meantime, the worried fishermen are thinking of taking creative approaches to get them off the hook. One captain says he may offer boat cruises in addition to fishing trips.

In the 1960s, there were as many as 40 boats docked in Sheepshead Bay, but there are now a scant handful.

Dying Fish Industry ? Part 1Dying Fish Industry ? Part 2