Dear Summer Flounder Dealer, and Commercial Vessel Permit Holder:
This letter is to inform you that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has recently issued final specifications for the 1997 commercial summer flounder (fluke) fishery. The only change for 1997 is an increase in commercial minimum fish size from 13 inches (33.0 cm) to 14 inches (35.6 cm). The other measures remain the same as those established for the fishery in 1996. Pursuant to 648.100 of the regulations, annual measures are implemented to ensure that the target fishing mortality rate specified in the Fishery Management Plan for Summer Flounder is not exceeded.
Accordingly, NMFS announces the following measures for the 1997 commercial summer flounder fishery:
(1) Coastwide harvest limit of 18.51 million lb (8.40 million kg).
(2) Coastwide commercial quota of 11.11 million lb (5.04 million kg).
(3) Minimum mesh size of 5 -1/2 inch (14.0 cm) diamond or 6-inch (15.2 cm) square applied throughout the codend for at least 75 continuous meshes forward of the terminus of the net, or, for codends with less than 75 meshes, the minimum-mesh-size codend must be a minimum of one-third of the net, measured from the terminus of the codend to the head rope, excluding any turtle excluder device extension.
(4) Effective April 7, 1997, a commercial minimum fish size of 14 inches (35.6 cm) total length. Please be advised that state regulations may implement this minimum fish size at an earlier date. You should check with the state in which you intend to land.
In addition, NMFS takes this opportunity to inform you that the summer flounder commercial quota available to the State of Delaware has been harvested. Effective March 4, 1997, fishing vessels issued a Federal moratorium permit for the summer flounder fishery may no longer land summer flounder in Delaware for the remainder of the 1997 calendar year. Further, dealers issued Federal dealer permits for summer flounder are advised that they may not purchase summer flounder from Federally permitted vessels that land in Delaware for the remainder of the calendar year.
Summer flounder regulations at 648.4 (b) provide that Federal permit holders agree as a condition of the permit not to land summer flounder in any state that has been determined to no longer have commercial quota available. Thus, as Delaware no longer has quota available, further landings in this State by Federally permitted vessels are prohibited for the remainder of the 1997 calendar year.
A more comprehensive description of summer flounder management is found in the Code of the
Federal Register 50 CFR part 648 subpart G. If you have any questions, please contact our
Northeast Fisheries Information Line at (508) 281-9278.
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