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Summer founder, sea bass and scup are on the docket for upcoming public hearings focused on allocation percentages between the recreational and commercial sectors.
By Fred Golofaro  |  February 3, 2020
Anglers who often feel like regulations fall a bit of short of being completely fair with sea bass, porgies and fluke in particular may find a glimmer of hope in upcoming allocation hearings throughout the region. Photo by Jim Hutchinson, Jr.

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) have scheduled a series of scoping hearings to gather public input on the range of issues and information to be considered in the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Commercial/Recreational Allocation Amendment. Hearings will be held February 13 – March 3.

Written comments will be accepted through March 17, 2020. All comments provided at public hearings or in writing will be presented to the Council and Commission.

This amendment will consider potential modifications to the allocations of catch or landings between the commercial and recreational sectors for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass. The commercial and recreational allocations for all three species were set in the mid-1990s based on historical proportions of landings (for summer flounder and black sea bass) or catch (for scup) from each sector. In July 2018, the Marine Recreational Information Program released revisions to its time series of catch (harvest and discards) estimates. These revisions resulted in much higher recreational catch estimates compared to previous estimates, affecting the entire time series of data going back to 1981.

Some changes have also been made to commercial catch data since the allocations were established. The current commercial and recreational allocation percentages for all three species do not reflect the current understanding of the recent and historic proportions of catch and landings from the two sectors. This amendment will consider whether changes to these allocations are warranted.

Scoping is the first and best opportunity to raise concerns related to the scope of issues that will be considered. You are encouraged to submit comments on which options may or may not be useful or practical for meeting the goal of this action and any other relevant issues the Council and Commission should consider.

Learn More
The Scoping and Public Information Document contains background information on summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass management and on issues that may be addressed in the amendment, as well as a description of the amendment process and timeline. This document, along with additional information and updates on development of this amendment, is available on the Council’s website.

Julia Beaty, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, jbeaty@mafmc.org, 302-526-5250
Dustin Colson Leaning, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, dleaning@asmfc.org, 703-842-0740

Hearing Schedule
Thursday, February 13, 6:00-7:30 PM - Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Admiral’s Hall, 101 Academy Drive, Buzzards Bay, MA 02532; Contact: Nichola Meserve, 617-626-1531.

Wednesday, February 19, 6:00-7:00 PM - Delaware Dept. of Natural Resources & Environmental Control, DNREC Auditorium, Richards & Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901; Contact: John Clark, 302-739-9914.

Monday, February 24, 6:00-8:00 PM - Belmar Municipal Court Room, 601 Main Street, Belmar, NJ 07719; Contact: Joe Cimino, 609-748-2020.

Tuesday, February 25, 3:30-4:45 PM - Berlin Library, 13 Harrison Avenue, Berlin, MD 21811; Contact: Steve Doctor, 410-213-1531.

Tuesday, February 25, 6:00-8:00 PM - Galloway Township Branch Library, 306 East Jimmie Leeds Road, Galloway, NJ 08205; Contact: Joe Cimino, 609-748-2020.

Tuesday, February 25, 6:00-8:00 PM - North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, Pamlico District Office, 943 Washington Square Mall, US Highway 17, Washington, NC 27889; Contact: Chris Batsavage, 252-808-8009.

Wednesday, February 26, 6:00-7:30 PM - University of Rhode Island Bay Campus, Corless Auditorium, South Ferry Road, Narragansett, RI 02882; Contact: Jason McNamee, 401-423-1943.

Wednesday, February 26, 7:00-8:00 PM - Connecticut Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection Marine Headquarters Boating Education Center (Rear Building), 333 Ferry Road, Old Lyme, CT 06371; Contact: Justin Davis, 860-447-4322.

Thursday, February 27, 6:00-7:30 PM - Stony Brook University, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Room 120 Endeavor Hall, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5000; Contact: Maureen Davidson, 631-444-0483.

Monday, March 2, 5:00-6:00 PM - Virginia Marine Resources Commission, 380 Fenwick Road, Building 96, Fort Monroe, VA 23651; Contact: Patrick Geer, 757-247-2078.

Tuesday, March 3, 6:00-7:30 PM - Internet Webinar; audio-only access: Dial 1-800-832-0736 and enter room number 5068871; Contact: Julia Beaty, 302-526-5250.

Please note that some hearings will be held in conjunction with (immediately before or after) supplemental scoping hearings for an ongoing Bluefish Allocation Amendment. A schedule for the bluefish hearings will be posted at www.mafmc.org/actions/bluefish-allocation-amendment.

In addition to providing comments at any of the scheduled public hearings, you may submit written comments by 11:59 pm EST on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Written comments may be sent by emailing jbeaty@mafmc.org. Please include “Fluke/Scup/Sea Bass Allocation Amendment” in the subject line. All comments will be compiled into a single document for review and consideration by both the Council and Commission. Please do not send separate comments to the Council and Commission.