Summer Flounder Update from ASMFC/MAFMC

by Paul Haertel
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association January 2018 Newsletter)

On 12/12/17 there was a joint meeting of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (MAFMC) regarding summer flounder. Despite the fact that our coastwide quota will increase from 3.77 million lbs. in 2017 to 4.42 million lbs. in 2018 and the fact that we underfished the recreational harvest limit this year, a motion for no liberalization of the regulations was made. However, New Jersey’s Adam Nowalski amended the motion to allow for up to a 17% liberalization which he felt was reasonable even though he believed it did not go far enough. A lengthy discussion ensued and the public was eventually given an opportunity to comment. Only three individuals chose to comment and all were from New Jersey. Tom Trageser, Victor Hartley and I all spoke in favor of the increase. However, it was the efforts of our representatives Adam Nowalski, Tom Fote and Jeff Brust whose efforts helped get the motion passed. They did an exceptional job of representing our state and we owe all of them a big thank you!

As a result of the meeting, the board and council voted to extend addendum XXVIII and NJ will continue to be its own region. States/regions may submit regional conservation equivalency proposals that constitute a 17% liberalization relative to the projected coastwide 2017 harvest (3.23 million lbs.). The harvest was projected since the wave 5 (September/October) data was not yet available. However, the preliminary wave 5 data has since been released and with it factored in with the rest of the year, it shows that we harvested 3.06 million lbs. That may not help us much but it is fortunate that we did not exceed their projected harvest. Further, NJ will not have to have the same size limit as Connecticut and New York as was specified in the addendum for 2017. Also in 2018, NJ will still have the ability to set specific regulations for Delaware Bay west of the COLREGS line in NJ waters as well as for Island Beach State Park.

What this means for NJ is that we will have an opportunity to extend our fluke season into September while leaving the size limit at 18” and the bag limit at 3 fish. We need to close the gap from when fluke season closes until seabass season reopens. I believe that the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council (NJMFC) will agree with that. However, our Bureau of Marine Fisheries (NJBMF) is expected to develop other proposals as well. The public will be able to comment on these various options at council meetings in the upcoming months. JCAA will keep you advised via our Facebook page and email alerts as to exactly when the meeting will occur.

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