Public Comment Sought on 2014 Fluke, Sea Bass Management Plans
December 27, 2013
The Atlantic coast states of Massachusetts through Virginia have scheduled their hearings to gather public comment on Draft Addendum XXV to the Summer Flounder (fluke) and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plans.
The dates, times, and locations of the scheduled hearings are as follows:
Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
January 16, 2014 at 5 PM
Bourne Fire Station #3, Meeting Room
53 Meetinghouse Lane
Sagamore Beach, Massachusetts
Contact by email Nicholda Meserve or call at 617.626.1531
Rhode Island Division of Fish & Wildlife
January 15, 2014 at 6 PM
University of Rhode Island, Corless Auditorium
South Ferry Road
Narragansett, Rhode Island
Contact: by email Jason McNamee or call at 401.423.1943
Connecticut Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection
January 14, 2014 at 7 PM
Boating Education Center, Building 3
333 Ferry Road
Old Lyme, Connecticut
Contact by email David Simpson or call at 860.434.6043
Draft Addendum XXV proposes management approaches for the 2014 summer flounder (fluke) and black sea bass recreational fisheries. For summer flounder, the Draft Addendum includes options that allow for management measures by region and the sharing of unused quota, both with the intent of providing more equity in recreational harvest opportunities along the coast. The specific regions being considered are (1) Massachusetts; Rhode Island through New Jersey; Delaware through Virginia; and North Carolina and (2) Massachusetts and Rhode Island; Connecticut through New Jersey; Delaware through Virginia; and North Carolina.
The Draft Addendum was initiated to address a growing concern that current summer flounder management measures (as established under the Fishery Management Plan) are not providing recreational fishermen along the coast with equitable harvest opportunities to the resource. Those measures, involving state-specific recreational management measures under conservation equivalency are increasingly being viewed as problematic due to several factors. These factors include: reliance upon recreational harvest estimates for a single year (1998) as the basis for individual state targets; a change in the abundance of the resource; and changes in the socio-economic characteristics of the fishery. The impact of the management program seemed to affect New York the most, with a 21” size limit (by 2009) and a short season including mid-season closure. In 2013, with a fully recovered stock, New York’s minimum size (19”) was at least 1” higher than any other state, and 1” higher than its bordering states.
The Draft Addendum proposes a more flexible and equitable conservation approach that allows the management program to adjust to past, current, and future changes to the resource and the fishery. The biological characteristics of the summer flounder have changed with the restoration of this stock. In particular, there has been a substantial expansion in the size and age composition, with greater overall abundance and increased numbers of larger fish.
The Draft Addendum also proposes 2 options for the 2014 black sea bass recreational fishery (1) coastwide measures (currently proposed at 13” TL minimum size, a 5-fish possession limit, and a season from June 1 to September 30) or (2) the continued use of management measures by northern (MA – NJ) and southern regions (DE – NC). The regional management approach has been used since 2011 and offers some advantages over coastwide regulations, which can disproportionately impact states within the management unit. Specifically, regional measures can address geographic differences in the stock (size, abundance and seasonality) while maintaining the consistent application of management measures by neighboring states.
Fishermen and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input on Draft Addendum XXV, either by attending state public hearings or providing written comment. The Draft Addendum is available on the Commission website on the Public Input page. It can also be accessed directly at the Public Comment Page (PDF) on the website. Public comment will be accepted until 5:00 PM (EST) on January 24, 2014 and should be forwarded to Kirby Rootes-Murdy, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; 703.842.0741 (fax) or via email at to Kirby Rootes-Murdy (Subject line: Draft Addendum XXV).