The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) will hold a public hearing on a proposed addendum to the interstate fishery management plan (FMP) for summer flounder at 6 p.m. Tuesday, January 17, 2017 in the Richardson & Robbins Building at 89 Kings Highway in Dover, DE. The meeting will take place in Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control’s (DNREC) Auditorium

Draft Addendum XXVIII was initiated to consider alternative management approaches for the 2017 recreational summer flounder fisheries to achieve needed harvest reductions due to a decrease in the coastwide recreational harvest limit (RHL) in 2017. In August, the ASMFC and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council approved a 30-percent reduction in the 2017 coastwide RHL relative to 2016. This action was taken in response to the 2016 Stock Assessment Update, which found fishing mortality was higher and population estimates in recent years were lower than previously projected.

Changes in summer flounder distribution, abundance and availability created problems under earlier state-by-state allocations, which were put into effect in 2001. In 2014, ASMFC shifted from state-by-state allocations to a regional approach for managing summer flounder recreational fisheries which benefits states by providing the flexibility to share allocations. The draft addendum is intended to set regulations to manage the summer flounder population in consideration of its shifting distribution, abundance and availability, while providing stability and greater regulatory consistency among neighboring states and enabling states to meet but not exceed the coastwide RHL.

Anglers and interested stakeholders are encouraged to provide input on the draft addendum either by attending the public hearing or providing written comment. “Given the large recreational harvest reduction required for 2017, all FMP options restrict the number of legal-size summer flounder Delaware recreational anglers can harvest in 2017, but Delaware fares better under some of these options than others,” said DNREC Fisheries Administrator John Clark. “Delaware is a voting member of ASMFC and the input provided by Delaware anglers will help inform Delaware’s vote.”

Draft Addendum XXVIII can be found on the Commission’s website with links under Breaking News and Public Input. Public comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. (EST) Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017 and should be forwarded to Kirby Rootes-Murdy, Senior Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St, Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; faxed to 703-842-0741 or emailed to [email protected], with “Summer Flounder Draft Addendum XXVIII” in the subject line.

The ASMFC will review submitted public comment and consider final action on the draft addendum at the Commission’s winter meeting in February 2017. For more information, please contact Kirby Rootes-Murdy at 703-842-0740.