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ASMFC Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Board Approves Regional Management for 2017 Recreational Summer Flounder Fisheries
Friday, February 3, 2017

ASMFC Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Board Approves Regional Management for 2017 Recreational Summer Flounder Fisheries

Alexandria, VA – The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board approved Addendum XXVIII to the Summer Flounder and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan, maintaining regional management for the 2017 recreational summer flounder fishery. Specifically, the Addendum requires a one-inch increase in size limit and reduced possession limits to stay within the 2017 recreational harvest limit (RHL). These measures are broadly applied across all states to reduce harvest and provide for more coastwide consistency in regulations. The summer flounder regions, which are continued from 2016, are: Massachusetts; Rhode Island; Connecticut through New York; New Jersey; Delaware through Virginia; and North Carolina.

In August 2016, the Board and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved an approximate 30% reduction in catch limits for both the commercial and recreational fisheries in response to the 2016 stock assessment update, which indicated the resource is experiencing overfishing but is not overfished. In order to not exceed the reduced 2017 RHL, a 41% reduction relative to the 2016 preliminary harvest estimates is needed. To achieve the reduction, the Addendum implements a one-inch increase in size limit from 2016 measures for all regions with the exception of North Carolina. Additionally, all regions are required to constrain their possession limits to 4 fish or less and maintain 2016 season lengths. The approved management program also allows for the continuation of the Delaware Bay specific management measures for New Jersey anglers west of the COLREGS line. In 2016, New Jersey had separate management measures for anglers east and west of the Delaware Bay COLREGs line.

“The Board’s decision took into account the findings of the 2015 and 2016 stock assessment updates, both of which found summer flounder abundance is declining and is experiencing overfishing; the need to take harvest reductions to end overfishing immediately through our joint management process with the Mid-Atlantic Council and as prescribed by the Magnuson-Stevens Act; and with the recognition that the confidence intervals around the harvest estimates limit our ability to precisely project the impacts of differing management measures,” stated Mike Luisi, Board Chair. “By our action, we struck a balance between the need to reduce harvest, while taking into account the socioeconomic impacts to our stakeholders. “

In its report to the Board, the Technical Committee (TC) supported the 2013 summer flounder benchmark stock assessment and its updates through 2016 as the best available science. Further, it agreed with the findings of the recent stock assessments, indicating the resource is declining in abundance and that associated management changes are needed to address this issue; in this case, a reduction in the RHL. The TC recommended uniform adjustments from 2016 management measures (as were approved in the Addendum) to reduce harvest and fishing mortality in an equitable manner.

Once the states have selected final management measures, the Commission will submit a letter to NOAA Fisheries detailing how the measures will constrain fishing to the 2017 RHL. The Commission annually submits this letter as part of the conservation equivalency process that allows for federal coastwide management measures to be waived and for state management measures to be applied in both state and federal waters.

Addendum XXVIII will be available on the Commission website, www.asmfc.org. For more information, please contact Kirby Rootes-Murdy, Senior Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at krootes-murdy@asmfc.org or 703.842.0740.

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