This is some fish story. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has recommended a 40 percent cut in the size of New Jersey’s 2018 summer flounder catch quota. That follows a reduction of the same size in 2017, and it’s got some state lawmakers worried.
“Our state’s recreational fishermen have already suffered from last year’s slashed catch limits and shortened season,” said Assemblyman Edward H. Thomson. “Going forward, any further reduction of summer flounder limits would be nothing short of devastating to our state’s recreational and commercial fishing industries.”
There are more than a million recreational saltwater fishermen in New Jersey. The fishing industry contributes $7.9 billion to the state’s economy and supports 50,000 jobs. Tourism is worth $44.1 billion annually and supports over 500,000 jobs.
Also known as fluke, summer flounder is one of the most sought-after saltwater fish on the Atlantic Coast and is crucial to both the state’s recreational and commercial fisheries.
Summer flounder is managed cooperatively by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in state waters, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and NOAA Fisheries in federal waters. Catch limits are set by the commission based on stock-assessment reports published by the NOAA.
“NOAA’s recommendations for the 2017 and 2018 seasons were based on flawed data collected from inconsistent sampling and methodology,” argued Thomson. He is a sponsor of a resolution (AR-45) that urges Congress and the president to enact the Transparent Summer Flounder Quotas Act and freeze summer flounder catch limits to those adopted in 2015, until a new stock assessment is complete. The measure was approved yesterday by the Assembly.