Summer Flounder Commercial Issues Amendment

Overview

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC or Council) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC or Commission) are developing an amendment to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass to potentially modify several aspects of the FMP relevant to the commercial summer flounder fishery, as well as modify the FMP objectives for summer flounder.

The Council and Commission originally initiated the amendment with the objective of performing a comprehensive review of all aspects of the FMP related to summer flounder, including commercial and recreational management strategies. To avoid delaying the amendment while waiting for updates to recreational data, the Council and Commission are now proposing to limit the scope of this action to focus on FMP goals and objectives and commercial management issues. This action will now be referred to as the “Summer Flounder Commercial Issues Amendment.” Following completion of this amendment, the Council and Commission may then develop at least one future action relating to recreational fishery issues and commercial/recreational allocation to incorporate updated recreational fishery data when it becomes available later this year.

The issues under consideration in the Summer Flounder Commercial Issues Amendment include: 

  1. Requalifying criteria for federal commercial moratorium permits to address latent effort in the fishery – The amendment includes options to reduce the number of eligible commercial federal moratorium permits by implementing requalifying criteria for existing permits.
  2. Modifying commercial quota allocation – The amendment proposes several options for revising the current commercial allocation, which has been in place since 1993 and is based on 1980-1989 landings data.
  3. Adding commercial landings flexibility as a framework issue in the Council's FMP – This action does not consider implementing landings flexibility policies at this time but considers allowing the Council to implement landings flexibility through a future framework action instead of an amendment. Landings flexibility policies would give commercial vessels greater freedom to land or possess summer flounder in the state(s) of their choice.
  4. Revising the FMP objectives for summer flounder – This amendment proposes revisions to the current FMP objectives for summer flounder management, to provide more meaningful and up to date guidance to managers.

Contacts

Amendment Status

The Council and Board approved a joint public hearing document for the Summer Flounder Commercial Issues Amendment at their joint April 30, 2018 meeting. The final version of the hearing document, which serves as an abridged version of the Council and Board's full amendment documents, will be made available once public hearing details are finalized. The Board approved their version of the draft amendment at the April 30 meeting, while the Council approved a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) at their June 2018 Council meeting. Public hearings are tentatively planned for September 2018.

Meetings

Recent Documents

Action Plan

Committee Meeting Summaries

Recent Council/Board Meeting Materials

Older Documents

Commercial/Recreational Allocation Model 

Advisory Panel Documents

FMP Goals and Objectives Workshop (December 2015)

Past Council/Board Meeting Materials, Presentations, and Recordings

Scoping Documents

Federal Register Notices


Amendment Background

Summer flounder are managed cooperatively by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in state waters (0-3 miles), and by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and NOAA Fisheries in Federal waters (3-200 miles). 

A number of issues and concerns relative to summer flounder management have been raised by Council and Commission members, advisors, and other stakeholders. The Council received significant input on summer flounder management during the Council's Visioning and Strategic Planning process, conducted from 2011-2013. During this process, input gathered from surveys, port meetings, and other comment opportunities indicated that there was significant stakeholder interest in re-examining and updating many of the management strategies and measures currently in place for the summer flounder fishery.

In addition, this action was proposed to evaluate the need for management response to changing conditions in the summer flounder fishery. This includes addressing apparent shifts in the distribution and center of biomass for the summer flounder stock (possibly related to the effects of rebuilding and/or climate change), as well as changing social and economic drivers for these fisheries.

The Council conducted fourteen scoping hearings and solicited comments from the public in September and October of 2014. Comments were compiled and presented at the Council’s December 2014 meeting. Based on these comments, the Council and Board identified four general categories of issues to be addressed in the amendment:

  1. Fishery Management Plan (FMP) goals and objectives,
  2. Quota allocation between the commercial and recreational sectors,
  3. Commercial management measures and strategies, and
  4. Recreational management measures and strategies.

As indicated above, these issues have since been split into separate actions to expedite addressing commercial issues and FMP goals and objectives revisions while revised time series of recreational data are being developed by NMFS.

Additional Resources

Summer Flounder Stock Assessment Documents

  More Information on Summer Flounder Management