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Summer FlounderSummer Flounder (Paralichthys dentatus)

Summer Flounder

Implementing regulations are found at 50 CFR part 648 subpart G

The summer flounder fishery in the U.S. operates from Maine to the North Carolina/South Carolina border.  Summer flounder is one of the most sought after commercial and recreational fish along the Atlantic coast.  Summer flounder is found in inshore and offshore waters from Nova Scotia, Canada, to the east coast of Florida.  Summer flounder are mainly caught in bottom otter trawls, but are also taken by pound nets and gillnets in estuarine waters.   The market for summer flounder is for human consumption and is primarily sold fresh.

 

2014 Summer Flounder Federal Register Actions

12/15/2014
Notice Of Availability Of Proposed Fishery Management Plan Amendment; Request For Comments; Northeast Region Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology Omnibus Amendment
12/02/2014
Temporary Rule; Closure; Summer Flounder Fishery; Commercial Quota Harvested for the State of New Jersey
10/22/2014
Proposed Rule; 2015 Annual Determination To Implement the Sea Turtle Observer Requirement
09/23/2014
Temporary Rule; Closure; Summer Flounder Fishery; Commercial Quota Harvested for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
09/16/2014
Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; Notice Of Intent To Prepare An Environmental Impact Statement; Notice Of Initiation Of Scoping Process; Notice Of Public Scoping Meetings; Requests For Comments
09/04/2014
Final Rule; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Changes to On-Reel Trawl Gear Stowage Requirements
08/22/2014
Final Rule; Correction; Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Commercial Fishing Operations; Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Regulations
08/21/2014
Notice; Request for Comments; Omnibus Amendment to Simplify Vessel Baselines
08/14/2014
Notice; Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Commercial Fishing Vessel Cost and Earnings Data Collection Survey in the Northeast Region
08/08/2014
Notice; Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Fishermen's Contingency Fund
08/01/2014
Advance Notice Of Proposed Rulemaking; Request For Comments; Notice of a Control Date for the Purpose of Limiting Entry to the Summer Flounder Fishery; Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan
07/16/2014
Proposed Rule; Extension Of Comment Period; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Special Management Zones for Five Delaware Artificial Reefs
07/07/2014
Final Rule; Recreational Management Measures for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; Fishing Year 2014
06/27/2014
Final rule; Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to Commercial Fishing Operations: Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Regulations
06/19/2014
Proposed rule; request for comments; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States: Special Management Zones for Five Delaware Artificial Reefs
06/04/2014
Temporary Rule; Quota Transfer; NC to VA Quota Transfer and NJ Quota Correction
05/29/2014
Proposed Rule; Request For Comments; Fisheries Of The Northeastern United States; Gear Stowage Requirements
05/22/2014
Final Rule; Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; 2014 Summer Flounder Specifications; 2015 Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Specifications
05/20/2014
Temporary Rule; Summer Flounder Fishery; VA to NJ Quota Transfer
05/09/2014
Proposed Rule; Request For Comments; Recreational Management Measures for the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fisheries; Fishing Year 2014
05/05/2014
Notice; Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Greater Atlantic Region Vessel Identification Collection
05/05/2014
Notice, Process For Making GIS Files Available; Opportunity To Comment; Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office's Geographic Information Systems Program; Availability of Files
04/24/2014
Notice; Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Greater Atlantic Region Dealer Purchase Reports
04/15/2014
Notice; Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Greater Atlantic Region Observer Providers Requirements
03/28/2014
Proposed specifications; request for comments; 2014 Summer Flounder Specifications; 2015 Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Specifications; 2014 Research Set-Aside Projects
03/19/2014
Temporary Rule; Summer Flounder Fishery; NC to VA and NJ Quota Transfer
01/17/2014
Temporary Rule; Summer Flounder Fishery; NC to VA Quota Transfer

 


Click Below for Past Federal Register Actions & Public Comments:

20132012201120102009200820072006200520042003200220012000

What are other common names for summer flounder fishery?  Fluke

What time of year are summer flounder most commonly found?  Summer flounder appear in April in the New York Bight and continue to move inshore during May and June.  They appear in early May near Woods Hole.  Summer flounder begin an offshore migration in September and are usually gone from the northern part of the range by October or November.

What is the geographic extent of summer flounder?  Summer flounder are found in waters from Canada to South Carolina (possibly to Florida), primarily south of Cape Cod.  They are found in offshore waters in the winter and inshore waters throughout the summer.  Commercial and recreational fisheries occur from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras.  Eight statistical areas (537, 612, 613, 616, 621, 622, 626, 631) individually accounted for greater than 5% of the summer flounder catch in 2009, collectively accounting for 76% of the catch.  Six statistical areas (537, 538, 539, 611, 612, 613) individually accounted for greater than 5% of the trips which caught summer flounder in 2009, collectively accounting for 77% of the trips that caught summer flounder and 35% of the summer flounder catch.

At what depths are summer flounder found?  In spring, summer flounder are distributed in warmer waters on the southern shelf and shelf break to depths of approximately 500 ft (152 m).  In the fall, they are primarily on inner shelf at depths of less than 200 ft (61 m).

Are other species caught when fishing for summer flounder?  Summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries are mixed fisheries, where squid, Atlantic mackerel, silver hake, skate, and other species are also harvested.

What gear types are authorized and what gears are primarily used?  For the commercial fishery, trawl, longline, handline, pot, trap, gillnet, and dredge are all authorized gears.  For the recreational fishery, rod and reel, handline, pot, trap, and spear are all authorized gears.  Bottom trawling has been the predominant gear type (93%) in the summer flounder fishery.  They are also taken by pound nets and gillnets in estuarine waters.  In 2009, the majority of the trips and catch (72.1% and 96%, respectively) were by otter and beam trawl, followed by gillnets (11% trips, 1.6% catch), handline “other” (10.5% trips, 1.2% catch), scallop dredge (5.1% trips, 1.0% catch), and pots and traps (1.1% trips, 0.3% catch).  Recreational fisheries use hook and line.

How is the fishery managed?  Summer flounder is managed using commercial quotas allocated to the states, and size limits for both the recreational and commercial fishery.  The commercial fishery also uses gear requirements as a management measure. 

Who manages this fishery?  Summer flounder is jointly managed in state and Federal waters by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and NOAA Fisheries in conjunction with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.  Summer flounder conservation equivalency also allows each state to establish its own recreational management measures, as long as the combined effect of all of the states’ management measures achieves the same level of conservation as would Federal coastwide measures.

What is the fishing year for this fishery?  January 1 – December 31

What are the different management areas for the summer flounder fishery?  Maine to the latitude of the North Carolina/South Carolina border

1979 – Total U.S. commercial landings of summer flounder peaked at nearly 18,000 metric tons (40 million pounds) 

1988 – Management of the summer flounder fishery began as the original Summer Flounder Fishery Management Plan (FMP) is implemented; coincided with the lowest levels of summer flounder abundance since the late 1960s 

1991Amendment 1 (Federal Register (FR) Notice) established an overfishing definition for summer flounder

1993Amendment 2 (FR Notice) established a rebuilding schedule, commercial quotas, recreational harvest limits, size limits, gear restrictions, permits, and reporting requirements for summer flounder; also creates the Summer Flounder Monitoring Committee; Amendment 3 (FR Notice) revised the exempted fishery line, increased the large mesh net threshold, and established otter trawl retention requirement for large mesh use; Amendment 4 (FR Notice) revised state-specific shares for summer flounder quota allocation; Amendment 5 (FR Notice) allowed states to combine or transfer summer flounder quota

1994Amendment 6 (FR Notice) set criteria for allowance of multiple nets on board commercial vessels for summer flounder, established deadline for publishing catch limits, commercial management measures for summer flounder

1995Amendment 7 (FR Notice) revised the F reduction schedule for summer flounder 

Mid-1990s – Stock assessments indicate that summer flounder abundance is not increasing as rapidly as projected 

1996Amendment 8 (FR Notice) incorporated Scup FMP into Summer Flounder FMP; Amendment 9 (FR Notice) incorporated Black Sea Bass FMP into Summer Flounder FMP

1996-1998 – Managers further reduce landings quotas to facilitate rebuilding of the stock 

1997Amendment 10 (FR Notice) modified commercial minimum mesh requirement, continued commercial vessel moratorium, prohibited transfer of fish at sea, and established special permit for party/charter sector for summer flounder

1998Amendment 11 (FR Notice) modified certain provisions related to vessel replacement and upgrading, permit history transfer, splitting, and permit renewal regulations

1999Amendment 12 (FR Notice) revised FMP to comply with the SFA and established framework adjustment process

2001Framework 1(FR Notice) established quota set-aside for research for all three species; Framework 2 (FR Notice) established state-specific conservation equivalency measures for summer flounder

2003 – Amendment 13 (Volume 1, Volume 2, FR Notice) addressed the disapproval sections of Amendment 12

2004Framework 5 (FR Notice) established multi-year specification setting of quota for all three species

2006 – Summer flounder rebuilding plan deadline extended to 2013; Framework 6 (FR Notice) established region-specific conservation equivalency measures for summer flounder

2007Framework 7 (FR Notice) built flexibility into process to define and update status determination criteria; Amendment 16 (FR Notice) standardized bycatch reporting methodology

2011Amendment 15 (FR Notice) established annual catch limits and accountability measures

2014Amendment 19 (FR Notice) changed recreational accountability measures

What are the primary markets for the summer flounder fishery?  Human consumption

What are the recent landings and value of the fishery? 

Landings:  12.483 million lb (2012)

Ex-vessel landing value:  $30.347 million (2012)

Estimated average ex-vessel price per pound:  $2.43 (2012)

What are the top summer flounder landing ports?  Point Judith, RI, Newport News, VA, and Wanchese, NC

Northeast Fisheries Science Center Summer Flounder Information – click here

 

StockSummer Flounder
Overfishing?No
Overfishing DefinitionOverfishing occurs when F > FMSY
Overfished?No
Overfished DefinitionThe stock is overfished when B < ½ BMSY Proxy
Rebuilding ProgramNo, declared rebuilt in 2010
F/FMSY0.31
Fishing Mortality Rate0.241 (2011)
B/BMSY or B/BMSY Proxy132.44 million lb
Biomass125.71 million lb (2011)

Other Stock Status Information:  Not Applicable 

Most Recent Environmental Impact Statement:  Amendment 13; 2003 (Volume 1, Volume 2)

Most Recent Biological Opinion:  2013

Most Recent Stock Assessment:  2010

Next Stock Assessment:  2013

Quota Monitoring – click here

2014 Annual Summer Flounder Specifications (January 1-December 31)

Stock Summer Flounder
Overfishing Limit (OFL) 26.76 million lb
Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) 21.94 million lb
Annual Catch Limit (ACL) 21.94 million lb
Annual Catch Target (ACT) 21.94 million lb
Total Allowable Landings (TAL) 18.06 million lb
Optimal Yield (OY) The long term average amount of desired yield, not to exceed maximum sustainable yield.

Research Set-Aside:  541,740 lb

Final Commercial Quota:  10.51 million lb (less RSA)

2014 State Commercial Summer Flounder Allocations

State Percent  Share Initial Commercial Quota (lb) Adjusted Commercial Quota (lb)*
Maine 0.05 5,153 4,998
New Hampshire 0.0005 50 48
Massachusetts 6.82 739,046 688,593
Rhode Island 15.68 1,699,364 1,648,193
Connecticut 2.26 244,571 237,206
New York 7.65 828,606 724,301
New Jersey 16.72 1,812,273 1,757,702
Delaware 0.02 1,928 -50,514
Maryland 2.04 220,951 214,298
Virginia 21.32 2,309,824 2,240271
North Carolina 27.44 2,973,954 2,884,403
Total 100.00 10,835,720 10,354,060

*These quota values are less RSA and include 2012 and preliminary 2013 quota overages.  These quota values also do not include quota transfers, please check the quota monitoring page for updates on quota transfers.

Recreational Harvest Limit (RHL):  7.01 million lb

How often do the quotas change for this fishery?  Every year

What if specifications are not in place at the start of fishing year?  In 1997, Judge Robert Dumar ordered that specifications publish before the fishing year begins.

Are there inseason adjustments (changes mid-fishing year) in this fishery?  Yes, if a state commercial summer flounder quota is fully harvested, then that state’s summer flounder fishery will be closed.  Additionally, states can transfer commercial quota between states to avoid exceeding state quotas.

Accountability Measures:

Commercial – All summer flounder landed for sale in a state shall be applied against that state’s annual commercial quota, regardless of where the summer flounder were harvested.  Any landings in excess of the commercial quota in any state, inclusive of any state-to-state transfers, will be deducted from that state’s annual quota for the following year in the final rule that establishes the annual state-by-state quotas, irrespective of whether the commercial sector ACL is exceeded.

Recreational – The recreational sector ACL will be evaluated based on a 3-year moving average comparison of total catch (landings and dead discards).  Both landings and dead discards will be evaluated in determining if the 3-year average recreational ACL has been exceeded.  If available data indicate that the recreational sector ACL has been exceeded, the total catch exceeds the ABC, or the total catch exceeds the OFL, then a system of accountability measures will be used that are based on a combination of how high the overage is and what condition the stock is in.  In other words, the status of the stock determines what type of management response would be implemented, including adjustment of management measures, scaled payback of overage, or pound-for-pound overage payback.  These adjustments will be made in the following fishing year, or as soon as possible, as a single year adjustment.

Other:  Not Applicable

Click Below for Past Quota Information:

2013

Permit Categories

Permit CategoryTypeDescriptionNumber of Issued Permits (2013)Number of Permits in Confirmation of Permit History*
Category 1Commercial (Moratorium)Vessel that fishes for, catches, possesses, transports, lands, sells, or trades summer flounder912115
Category 2RecreationalVessel that carries passengers for hire823Not Applicable

*A Confirmation of Permit History allows a vessel owner to retain permit eligibility in the event the vessel has been destroyed or sold but the owner retains the permit eligibility.  The permit in Confirmation of Permit History may then be placed on a vessel at a later date.

Control Date:  January 26, 1990; Vessels with qualified landings between January 26, 1985, and January 26, 1990

Other Permit Information:  Not Applicable

Commercial Operator Permit:  Operator cards are required for any operator of a charter/party boat or a commercial vessel (including carrier and processor vessels) issued a vessel permit from the Greater Atlantic Region and fishing for or in possession of fish.

Commercial Dealer/Processor Permit:  Summer flounder may be sold only to persons possessing a valid Federal summer flounder dealer permit. 

How to Obtain a Federal Fishing Permit:  Anyone with a valid vessel operator’s permit can obtain a Federal recreational summer flounder permit by submitting a permit application and supporting documentation to the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office Permit Division. 

Commercial (moratorium) permits have been managed under a limited entry system since 1993; no new moratorium permits are being issued.

More information can be found here.

Possession Limits and Fish Size Requirements

There is no possession limit for the commercial fishery unless using certain gear types (see the Gear tab) and also check state regulations.

Maine

New Hampshire

Massachusetts

Rhode Island

Connecticut

New York

New Jersey

Delaware

Maryland

Virginia

North Carolina

Fish Size Limits:

Minimum Fish Size:  14 in total length (check state regulations)

Maximum Fish Size:  None

Gear Requirements

Otter trawlers whose owners are issued a summer flounder permit and land at least 100 lb of summer flounder per trip from May 1 to October 31, or land at least 200 lb of summer flounder per trip from November 1 to April 30, must have a minimum mesh size of 5.5 in diamond mesh or 6 in square mesh applied throughout the net body, extension(s), and codend.  Vessels not fishing under the above mesh requirements may retain no more than 100 lb from May 1 through October 31, and no more than 200 lb from November 1 through April 30.  

Turtle Excluder Device (TED) – Summer flounder trawlers fishing within the Summer Flounder Fishery-Sea Turtle Protection Area are required to use a TED as detailed at 50 CFR part 223.  Vessels fishing north of Oregon Inlet, NC, are exempted from this requirement from January 15 through March 15.

Summer Flounder Small Mesh Exemption Areas and Sea Turtle Protection Areas

Summer Flounder Fishery-Sea Turtle Protection Area

Regulated, Closed, and Access Areas

Not Applicable

Days-At-Sea (DAS) Requirements

The summer flounder fishery is not managed by a DAS system.  Please see the ‘Quota’ and ‘Limits/Sizes’ section of this webpage for more information on effort control in the summer flounder fishery. 

Exempted Fisheries

Exempted fisheries allow fishing vessels to fish for specific species without being subject to certain Northeast (NE) multispecies regulations, including days-at-sea, provided the bycatch of regulated species is minimal. To be approved and implemented, exemption programs must have demonstrated that incidental catch of NE multispecies is less than 5 percent of the total catch, by weight, and that the exemption will not jeopardize fishing mortality objectives.

How to Request Fishery Exemptions

An exempted fishery may be added, deleted, or modified pursuant to the procedure described below:

  1. Applicants must submit a written request to the Regional Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930-2298. The request should describe the area in which the fishery would operate, the period in which it would operate, the gear it would use, the approximate number of vessels likely to participate, and the species it would target, retain, and land.
  2. Those proposing that a fishery should be exempt should describe the fishery and present all information possible that helps determine that the fishery meets the bycatch standard. The Regional Administrator will investigate NMFS data sources, but proposals for exemptions should be complete and clear to facilitate the process. State agencies and universities, for example, may have additional data available and applicants may contact them for assistance.
  3. When a request for an exempted fishery is submitted, the request and any accompanying data are reviewed by the Regional Administrator to determine whether such a fishery would meet the exemption qualifying criteria. The Regional Administrator will also consult with the New England Fishery Management Council on any exemptions requested. This process may take several months to complete.

The minimum mesh-size requirements specified in the ‘Gear’ section of this webpage do not apply to:

  • Vessels that have a moratorium permit and are fishing from November 1 through April 30 in the exemption area.  The exemption area is east of the line that follows 72°30.0’ W. longitude until it intersects the outer boundary of the economic exclusive zone.  Participation requires a summer flounder small-mesh exemption area letter of authorization (LOA), which may be obtained by contacting the Greater Atlantic Region Permit Office at (987) 281-9224.
  • Vessels fishing with a two-seam otter trawl fly net with the following configuration, provided that no other nets or netting with mesh smaller than 5.5 in are on board:
    • Large mesh in the wings that measure 8 to 64 in;
    • The belly of the net has 35 or more meshes that are at least 8 in; and
    • The mesh decreases in size throughout the body of the net to 2 in or smaller.

Sumer Flounder Small Mesh Exemption Areas and Sea Turtle Protection Area

Sumer Flounder Small Mesh Exemption Areas and Sea Turtle Protection Area

Protected Resource and Marine Mammal Regulations

It is illegal to harvest or possess protected species unless otherwise specified under the regulations implementing the Endangered Species Act or Marine Mammal Protection Act.  Please see links below for more information or contact NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office Protected Resources Division at (978) 281-9328.

Protected Fish Species

Marine Mammals

Sea Turtles

Gillnets

Marine Mammals 

Sea Turtles  

Trawl

Marine Mammals 

Sea Turtles

Virginia Pound Net

Marine Mammals 

Sea Turtles

Sea Scallop Dredge

Marine Mammals 

Sea Turtles

Possession Limits and Fish Size Requirements

2014 State and Federal Recreational Management Measures for Summer Flounder

State Minimum Size (inches) Possession Limit (number of fish) Open Season
Massachusetts 16 5 May 22-September 30
Rhode Island 18 8 May 1-December 31
Connecticut* 18 5 May 17-September 21
New York 18 5 May 17-September 21
New Jersey* 18 5 May 23-September 27
Delaware 16 4 All year
Maryland 16 4 All year
Virginia 16 4 All year
North Carolina 15 6 All year

*At 45 designated shore sites in CT, anglers may keep 5 fish at 16 inches, May 17-September 21.  

*At 1 designated shore site in NJ, anglers may keep 2 fish at 16 inches, May 23-September 27.

Maine

New Hampshire

Massachusetts

Rhode Island

Connecticut

New York

New Jersey

Delaware

Maryland

Virginia

North Carolina

Gear Requirements

Not Applicable

Regulated, Closed, and Access Areas

Not Applicable

Days-At-Sea (DAS) Requirements

The summer flounder fishery is not managed by a DAS system.  Please see the ‘Quota’ and ‘Limits/Sizes’ section of this webpage for more information on effort control in the summer flounder fishery. 

Exempted Fisheries

Not Applicable

Protected Resource and Marine Mammal Regulations

Not Applicable

Commercial Reporting

Catch Reporting and Vessel Trip Reports (VTR):  VTRs must be submitted with record of all fishing activity for each month.  The reports must be submitted to NMFS or postmarked within 15 days after the end of the reporting month.  Reports can also be submitted electronically at here.  If no fishing activity took place during a fishing month, then a VTR must be submitted stating that no fishing trips were taken. 

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System Requirements:  The summer flounder fishery does not have any IVR requirements.  However, if you are participating in a research program such as research set-aside (RSA) or fishing with an exempted fishing permit (EFP), there are IVR requirements.  Please refer to your RSA or EFP paperwork for instruction on using IVR.

Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) Requirements:  The summer flounder fishery does not have any VMS requirements.

Observer Requirements:  The summer flounder fishery does not have any specific observer requirements, however all federally permitted vessels are obligated to carry an observer if randomly selected by the National Observer Program.

Charter/Party and Recreational Reporting

Catch Reporting and Vessel Trip Reports (VTR):  If the owner of a party or charter boat is issued only a summer flounder charter/party permit, and is carrying passengers for hire, then they must complete a VTR for each trip on which they land summer flounder.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System Requirements:  The summer flounder fishery does not have any IVR requirements.  However, if you are participating in a research program such as research set-aside (RSA) or fishing with an exempted fishing permit (EFP), there are IVR requirements.  Please refer to your RSA or EFP paperwork for instruction on using IVR.

Additionally, the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) is a system of coordinated voluntary data collection programs designed to estimate recreational catch and effort.