NOAA Fisheries increased the 2019 summer flounder recreational harvest limit based on results of a recent benchmark assessment. This action continues “conservation equivalency” for summer flounder, which waives federal measures in lieu of conservationally equivalent state measures.
The summer flounder fishery is managed cooperatively under the provisions of the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) developed by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission), in consultation with the New England and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils.
The management unit specified in the FMP includes summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) in U.S. waters of the Atlantic Ocean from the southern border of North Carolina northward to the U.S./Canada border. States manage summer flounder within 3 nautical miles (4.83 km) of their coasts, under the Commission’s plan for summer flounder. The summer flounder Federal regulations govern vessels and individual fishermen fishing in Federal waters of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), as well as vessels possessing a summer flounder charter/party vessel permit, regardless of where they fish.
In this final rule, NMFS is implementing conservation equivalency (i.e., waiving Federal measures in light of the existence of appropriate measures in state waters) to manage the 2019 summer flounder recreational fishery, as proposed on May 17, 2019 (84 FR 22426).