DEP Rules Upheld in Dispute Over NJ Summer Flounder Fishing

Newsworks | July 20, 2017 | Energy & Environment
U.S. Secretary of Commerce sides with New Jersey on regulations and against Atlantic states marine commission

Weeks of controversy over summer flounder fishing regulations in New Jersey have culminated in a decision by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to overturn a ruling by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and to instead affirm regulations put in place by New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection.

The DEP had instituted new rules requiring a minimum 18-inch size for the summer flounder catch for most coastal waters. The size for Delaware Bay was set at 17 inches, with a three-fish per day limit. At Island Beach State Park, the limit for shore fishing was 16 inches, with a daily two-fish limit. (Flounder are also known as fluke.)

But the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission announced in June that New Jersey was out of compliance with management of the flounder fishery. And, although the season began on May 25, with a September 5 end date, the fishery was subject to closure due to the dispute.

A spokeswoman for the fisheries commission said that Ross’s ruling has the potential to soften the commission’s regulatory authority. A Department of Commerce spokesman said Ross believes the New Jersey DEP’s regulations are adequate to protect the flounder population.

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