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NOAA Fisheries Proposes New Recreational Management Measures for Summer Flounder; No Changes to Scup

NOAA Fisheries is seeking comment on proposed recreational fishery management measures for the 2017 summer flounder and scup fisheries. 
 
The 2017 summer flounder recreational harvest limit is 3.77 million lb (1,710 mt), a decrease from the 2016 harvest limit of 5.42 million lb (2,458 mt). Accordingly, more restrictive management measures are necessary in 2017 to reduce landings by approximately 41 percent compared to 2016 landings, to ensure that the landings do not exceed the recreational harvest limit.
 
We are not proposing any changes to the recreational measures for the 2017 recreational scup fishery. The current measures are expected to keep landings within the 2017 recreational harvest limit. 

We are proposing black sea bass recreational management measures in a separate rulemaking action. 

Summer Flounder Proposed Measures
For summer flounder, in order to prevent overfishing in 2017, we are proposing stricter management measures than those in place in 2016. These measures would apply to all federally permitted party/charter vessels with applicable summer flounder and scup permits, regardless of where they fish, unless the state in which they land implements measures that are more restrictive.
 
We propose the Council's and Commission's recommended coastwide management measures for summer flounder, which are:
  • 19-inch minimum fish size
  • Four fish per person possession limit
  • Open season from June 1-September 15
We propose to continue the "conservation equivalency" approach, in which states develop state or regional minimum sizes, possession limits, and fishing seasons that will achieve the necessary level of conservation. Both the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission recommended continuing conservation equivalency.
 
For state waters, the Commission has reviewed measures submitted by the regions and certified that they are, in combination, the conservation equivalent of the Federal coastwide measures that would prevent overfishing. 
Read the proposed rule as published in the Federal Register today, and the Supplemental Information Report on our website.
 
The comment period is open through May 4.
 
Submit your comments through the e-rulemaking portal or by mailing:
John Bullard, Regional Administrator
Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office
55 Great Republic Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930
 
Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel at jennifer.goebel@noaa.gov