A memo released by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council staff revised the earlier recommended flounder/fluke cuts downward from 43 percent to 29 percent for 2016. After discussions on August 12th, the Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) voted in favor of a 29% reduction in the summer flounder quota for both the commercial and recreational sector starting in 2016.
Changing course, the Council staff weighed the impact the measures would have on the recreational and commercial fisheries, and the coastal communities they support.
Summer flounder are one of the most sought after commercial and recreational fish along the Atlantic coast, with total landings at approximately 19.6 million pounds in 2013. In 2014, the Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board set regional management measures which included Virginia, to include a 16-inch minimum size limit, 4 fish bag limit, and a year-round season. States also have the option to allow a 16-inch minimum size limit at state designated sites offering only shore-based fishing access.
A number of issues and concerns relative to summer flounder management have been raised by Council and Commission members, advisors, and other stakeholders. The Council also received a good bit of input from surveys, port meetings, and other comment opportunities indicated that “there was significant stakeholder interest in re-examining and updating many of the management strategies and measures currently in place for the summer flounder fishery”.
The memo noted that the summer flounder fisheries “would not be able to effectively absorb such a large reduction in the acceptable biological catch (ABC) in one year”. The reduction, as originally proposed would have placed a large amount of hardship on rec fishing, especially local charter and party boats, bait and tackle shops.
The new plan is going to be based on a phased approach, working in reductions over a three year period.