Final rules have just been set for the summer flounder, scup (porgy) and black sea bass fisheries. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced in the Federal Register of Thursday, May 22 that it has set the harvest limits for summer flounder (fluke) for 2014 and the limits for 2015 for all three species. The limits take effect immediately and last through the end of next year.
These fisheries are jointly managed by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The affected zone runs from North Carolina to the Canadian border. If you have questions, call Fishery Policy Analyst Moira Kelly at (978) 281-9218.
NMFS has not yet set the recreational standards (fish size, possession limits, seasons) yet. It plans to propose rules for public comment at a later date. NMFS is updating the 2014 summer flounder limits based on an updated stock assessment from its Northeast Fisheries Science Center.
Based on 2012 data, the latest available, NMFS determined that the summer flounder stock has been rebuilt and was not overfished.
NMFS published the state by state quotas at the link cited above. It notes that the 2015 targets are subject to change. For scup, it plans a catch limit (kept and discards) of 33.77 million lb (15,320 mt). The limit is lower than for 2014 because it appears the stock has shrunk somewhat. The percentage of catch divided between commercial and recreational fishing remains the same.
NMFS proposed quotas on March 31. It received only one comment. It did not change the specifications based on the comment.
For summer flounder this year, the recreational sector annual catch limit will total 9.07 million lb. The recreational harvest limit totals 7.01 million lb. For 2015, the recreational sector annual catch limits total 9.44 million lb of summer flounder, 7.43 million lb for scup and 2.9 million lb for black sea bass.