Delaware Prepares New Summer Flounder Creel Limit For 2017
As you probably know the ASMFC Addendum XXVIII is requiring all east coast states reduce summer flounder catches by thirty percent and due to last years catch totals we also have to add eleven percent. So essentially we have to comply with a forty-one percent reduction for the 2017 summer flounder fishing season. There has been and still is a great deal of controversy over this with New Jersey leading the charge. They (NJ) are literally hoping to get the current administration to change the staff at NOAA to get the right people in place, so they can keep and kill more fish. It has been dubbed the flounder wars. Delaware’s creel limits are set by an Administrative Procedure Act regulatory process , and that can take upwards of six months to complete. In order for Delaware to have this new creel limit in place, DNREC has initiated an Emergency Regulation to set our summer flounder creel limit for 2017. John Clark, Fisheries Section Administrator … “The Division of Fish and Wildlife must increase the Summer Flounder size limit to 17” to comply with Summer Flounder FMP and the Division is attempting to have this change in place by April 1, 2017. We are using Emergency Regulation to change the size limit because the APA regulatory process, which we will also be starting, takes five to six months to complete, so the season would be almost over by the time the regulation was in place. The plan is to use the Emergency Regulation to get the size limit in place, then make it a full regulation by going through the full APA process.”
There are two reasons DNREC is using this Emergency Regulation. It will allow them (DNREC) to make any changes in case the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), decides to not accept option five of the ASMFC Addendum XXVIII, which was voted on at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) meeting last month. If option five is not approved, Delaware will still be able to easily change their limits and comply with the addendum without going through a second lengthily Administrative Procedure Act (APA) regulatory process. If they do have to change the limit the Emergency Regulation can be changed much faster, like immediately. The reason option five may not be approved is that it does not comply with the required reduction, but all of the ASMFC state representatives are confident it will pass. In a nutshell that is what is going on, because fishery management regulations and procedures can drive you crazy trying to follow them sometimes. Regardless of the decision, Delaware probably would be setting a limit at 17 inches and 4 fish for 2017 open all year, no season starting on April first. We are that small of a state in the scheme of things that an inch increase would bring us into compliance anyway, as I understand it.