Summer Flounder Regulations ASMFC Meeting Update
Today the ASMFC held their meeting to decide the regulations for the summer flounder, scup and black sea bass. I know you are all mainly concerned with summer flounder, and what the new regulations or creel limits will be for Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey. Once the votes are in the recommendation will be passed along to NOAA to decide if they agree. I heard from a friend that the meeting was a little chaotic or hectic, and New Jersey was seriously up in arms. Apparently they brought their big guns with them. I do not know how Delaware voted. Well as of not too long ago the option voted on was number five. Only New Jersey will have a different creel limit for the Delaware Bay, Delaware will have a creel limit of four fish at seventeen inches if this is passed. I do not have any details how Delaware will enforce or regulate this option, I will find that out later today or tomorrow. The regulation for the Delaware Bay will be at the COLREGS line … § 80.503 Delaware Bay, a line drawn from Cape May Light to Harbor of Refuge Light; thence to the northernmost extremity of Cape Henlopen. I do not know how long it will take NOAA to decide if they agree with option five.
The only issue at this point is option five only allows for a one inch increase in creel limits across the board for all states and a maximum bag limit of four fish. Allowing for more coast wide consistency with creel limits, however it does not meet the required forty percent reduction and only achieves a twenty-eight to thirty percent reduction. My sources at the meeting are optimistic that NOAA will approve this option anyway. As far as how Delaware voted, I would guess we opted for option one, which seemed to be the most popular at the comment periods, and the worst choice in my opinion. On three levels it was bad, the fact it would allow fish sharing, there was no change so no reduction to help the fishery, and the other states in the north would be severely reduced in catch limits and seasons. None of them would ever vote for that option. It will take some time for NOAA too decide and when they do I will let you know where we stand for Delaware. If they take longer to decide by the time the flounder show up this year, then last years creel limits will remain in play.