NMFS News Release

Northeast Regional Office
One Blackburn Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930

1997 Opening of Summer Flounder Fishery

Date: December 19, 1996

Dear Summer Flounder Permit Holder:

The summer flounder fishery in most states will reopen January 1, 1997. This letter is to remind you that there are two seasonal measures in effect for the summer flounder (fluke) fishery:


Through April 30, 1997, a vessel must comply with the minimum mesh requirement (5.5" diamond, 6.0" square) when it has 200 pounds or more of summer flounder on board. If you possess 200 pounds or more of summer flounder, you may have nets or netting on board with smaller than the minimum mesh required, as long as they are stowed and unavailable for immediate use. You may continue to fish with the small mesh net only if you are enrolled in the Small Mesh Exemption Program.


The seasonal Small Mesh Exemption Program also runs through April 30, 1997. If fishing in the exemption area (the area east of 7230' W. longitude), an otter trawl vessel with an Exemption Certificate may fish with mesh smaller than the minimum mesh size requirement and not be subject to the 200 pound threshold possession level.

To enroll in the Exemption Program, you must provide a written request for an exemption permit (either in person or by mail) at least 7 business days in advance to any of the addresses listed below. The 7 day notification is necessary to process your request. If you do not apply 7 days in advance, we cannot guarantee you the starting date you request. The permit must be on board your vessel in order to take part in the program.


Permits Office, NMFS, 1 Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. (508)281-9370


John Mason, NY DMR, BLDG #40, SUNY, Stoneybrook, NY 11790-2356.



Eric Braun, NMFS Statistics, 62 Newton Lane, Suite 203, East Hampton, NY

11937-2483. (516)324-3569


John Stolgitis, RI DEM, Oliver Steadman Bldg., 4808 Tower Hill Road, Wakefield, RI 02879. (401)789-3094.

Vessels participating in this exemption program must continue to follow the reporting requirements pursuant to the Fishery Management Plan for the Summer Flounder Fishery. To withdraw from the Exemption Program, you simply return your permit to one of the above offices at least one day in advance of the date you wish to withdraw.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requires potential respondents for the Small Mesh Exemption Program to be notified of certain information regarding their rights and the burden associated with applying for an Exemption Certificate. This information is provided for you in the following attachment. If you have any questions regarding the Exemption Program, or the net stowage provisions, please call David Gouveia at (508)281-9280.

The small mesh exemption permit is meant to reduce the adverse impacts of the minimum mesh regulation on vessels which use small mesh in directed fisheries for other species such as squid and butterfish, yet catch summer flounder. Past analysis of landings data shows that most of the summer flounder landed by these vessels have been of large size. Since the mesh size requirement in the Fishery Management Plan for the Summer Flounder Fishery (FMP) is designed to protect small summer flounder, the exemption is viewed as consistent with the conservation goals of the FMP.

The information provided through the issuance of the small mesh exemption permit will be used by enforcement officers to differentiate between legitimate users of small mesh and users who are in violation of the minimum mesh requirement.

PRIVACY ACT STATEMENT: Under the provisions of the Privacy Act of 1974 (Public Law 93-579), no agency shall disclose any record which is contained in a system of records by any means of communication to any person, or to another agency, except pursuant to a written request by, or with the prior written consent of, the individual to whom the record pertains.

BURDEN STATEMENT: The Small Mesh Exemption Certificate is approved under OMB Control #0648-0202, and is approved for use through 10/31/97. Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 5 minutes per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. Send comments regarding this burden estimate or suggestions for reducing this burden to: National Marine Fisheries Service, Fishery Management Operation Division, 1 Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930-2298.

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required to respond to nor shall a person be subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act unless that collection of information displays a current valid OMB Control Number.

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