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The Commerce Department's final "non-compliance" decision is expected to be final by the time the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council convenes for their bi-monthly meeting on Thursday, July 13.

By Jim Hutchinson  |  July 9, 2017
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The Fisherman Magazine
The U.S. Department of Commerce is expected to deliver its final ruling on New Jersey's 2017 summer flounder season by July 11, while the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council convenes on Thursday, July 13. Photo by Jim Hutchinson, Jr.

A press release on July 6 from NOAA Fisheries’ Greater Atlantic Regional Field Office made official the final 2017 minimum fish size, angler possession limits, and seasonal rules for the recreational fluke and porgy fisheries, while also recognizing that the Department of Commerce ruling on New Jersey’s “non-compliance” determination is still forthcoming.

“We are aware that the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has requested that the Secretary of Commerce review the Commission’s finding that New Jersey is out of compliance with Addendum XXVIII to the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Interstate Fishery Management Plan,” the release noted, adding “The Commission has requested that the Secretary review the non-compliance determination and decide whether or not to implement a moratorium on summer flounder fishing in New Jersey state waters.”

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is expected to give his final ruling this week.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) met with federal officials on June 20 to present the management measures that state had implemented for the 2017 summer flounder season,

“We were able to go into great detail about the data behind New Jersey’s management measures that will conserve more fish and reduce the number of larger breeding females removed from the fishery, and therefore provide stronger recruitment for the future,” said NJDEP Commissioner Bob Martin.

“We remain confident that New Jersey is in compliance, that our measures achieve conservation equivalency and we will preserve more of the summer flounder stock than if the measures required by ASFMC were in place,” the commissioner said last month.

In last week’s release, NOAA Fisheries noted specifically that the agency is continuing “conservation equivalency” for the summer flounder fishery. “Conservation equivalency means that we have waived the Federal recreational bag limit, minimum fish size, and fishing season, and vessel owners are subject only to regulations in their state,” the release stated.

The eleven-member New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council will hold its regular bi-monthly meeting this Thursday, July 13 at the Galloway Township Branch of the Atlantic County Library at 306 East Jimmie Leeds Road in Galloway at 4 p.m. If anything occurs from a federal perspective that should require immediate action by New Jersey, expect that to be addressed Thursday in Galloway.

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