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The public is welcomed to weigh-in on options for summer flounder, scup and black sea bass management.
By The ASMFC  |  November 2, 2018
Conservation equivalency rollover for summer flounder and slot limits are just two of the options to be discussed at the public hearings.

Atlantic states from Massachusetts through Virginia have scheduled hearings to gather public comment on Draft Addenda XXXI and XXXII to the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The details of those hearings follow:

November 5, 2018 at 7 PM
Connecticut Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection

DEEP Marine Headquarters
Boating Education Center, Building 3
333 Ferry Road
Old Lyme, Connecticut
Contact: Justin Davis at 860.447.4322

November 7, 2018 at 6 PM
Rhode Island Division of Fish & Wildlife

University of Rhode Island Narragansett Bay Campus Corless Auditorium
South Ferry Road
Narragansett, Rhode Island
Contact: Robert Ballou at 401.222.4700 ext. 4420

November 8, 2018 at 6 PM
Delaware Dept. of Natural Resources & Environmental Control

DNREC Auditorium
89 Kings Highway
Dover, Delaware
Contact: John Clark at 302.739.9914

Virginia Marine Resources Commission
November 14, 2018 at 6 PM

2600 Washington Avenue
4th Floor Conference Room
Newport News, Virginia
Contact: Rob O’Reilly at 757.247.2248

November 15, 2018 at 6 PM
Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Ocean City Municipal Airport
12724 Airport Road
Berlin, Maryland
Contact: Steve Doctor at 410.213.1531

November 26, 2018 at 6 PM
New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife

Stafford Township Administrative Office
260 East Bay Avenue
Manahawkin, New Jersey
Contact: Joseph Cimino at 609.748.2020

New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation
November 27, 2018 at 6:30 PM

Division of Marine Resources
205 North Belle Mead Road, Suite 1
East Setauket, New York
Contact: Maureen Davidson at 631.444.0483

November 28, 2018 at 6 PM
Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries

Bourne Community Center, Room 2
239 Main Street
Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts
Contact: Nichola Meserve at 617.626.1531

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board approved Draft Addendum XXXI for public comment at the Joint Commission/Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council meeting in Virginia Beach, VA in August 2018, and approved Draft Addendum XXXII in October at the Commission’s Annual Meeting in New York City.

Draft Addendum XXXI
Draft Addendum XXXI and the Council’s complementary framework consider adding the following management options to the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan.

  1. Conservation equivalency for the recreational black sea bass fishery
  2. Conservation equivalency rollover for summer flounder
  3. Transit provisions for Block Island Sound for recreational and/or commercial fisheries for all three species
  4. Slot limits (not currently a management option in the Council’s FMP)

The Draft Addendum aims to increase the suite of tools available for managing summer flounder, scup and black sea bass, as well as reduce inconsistencies between state and federal regulations. This action does not consider implementing black sea bass conservation equivalency or slot limits for any of the three species in 2019. Rather, the options would update the FMPs to allow these management tools to be used in future years.

Draft Addendum XXXII
Draft Addendum XXXII was initiated to establish new recreational management programs for summer flounder and black sea bass, as the current addenda under which the two fisheries are currently managed (Addenda XXVIII and XXX, respectively) expire at the end of 2018. The Draft Addendum proposes two options for each recreational fishery: (1) coastwide management (the default program for both species under the FMP), or conservation equivalency for summer flounder; and (2) setting measures through a specifications process.

The Draft Addendum seeks to address several challenges with the recreational management of summer flounder and black sea bass. Since the adoption of the FMP, shifts in abundance, distribution, and behavior of these two species have created challenges in constraining harvest to the coastwide recreational harvest limit (RHL) while providing fair and equitable access to fishermen throughout the species’ ranges. In addition, the use of highly variable and inherently delayed annual harvest estimates to establish management measures for the subsequent year has led to regulatory instability, regulatory disparities, and frustration on the part of stakeholders.

Setting measures through specifications would be a procedural change, allowing regional management to reflect the current condition and distribution of the stocks and fisheries, and enabling measures to be established based on more complete harvest data rather than preliminary projections. This process would eliminate the need for measures to be established through addenda; instead, the Board would approve measures in the late winter or early spring each year, based on technical committee analysis of harvest estimates and other information on resource availability. Public input on specifications would be gathered by states through their individual public comment processes. For each species, the Draft Addendum also includes proposed standards and guiding principles to structure how measures are set in order to provide fair and equitable access to the resource, and increase regulatory stability.

Interested groups are encouraged to provide input on Draft Addenda XXXI and XXXII either by attending state public hearings or providing written comment. Draft Addenda are available HERE and HERE. They can also be accessed on the Commission website (www.asmfc.org) under Public Input.

Public comment will be accepted until 5:00 PM (EST) on November 29, 2018 and should be forwarded to Caitlin Starks, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, Virginia 22201; 703.842.0741 (fax) or at comments@asmfc.org (Subject line: Draft Addendum XXXI and XXXII Comment.)