Summer Flounder Commercial Issues Amendment


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. Scroll down for information about the specific issues addressed in this action.


Public Hearing Documents

The Council and Commission held public hearings on this amendment in September 2018 and collected written comments through October 12, 2018. The three documents made available to inform public input include:

  1. Summer Flounder Amendment Public Hearing Document - An abbreviated version of the Draft Amendment, developed jointly by the Council and Commission, summarizing potential management changes and their impacts.

  2. MAFMC Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) - The Council's version of the full amendment document, which includes more detail regarding the basis for and the impacts of the proposed measures. (Document appendices are available here.)

  3. ASMFC Draft Amendment - The Commission's version of the full amendment, which summarizes all portions of the Commission's FMP, including management history, stock status, habitat considerations, and proposed revisions to management measures.

Issues Addressed in this Action

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.

Amendment Status

A summary of public comments on this amendment is available here. The Council and Commission considered taking final action at their December 2018 joint meeting, but ultimately delayed final action until their February 2019 joint meeting in Virginia Beach, VA.

Recent Documents

Public Hearing Comments

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