Comprehensive Summer Flounder 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 in order to perform a comprehensive review of all aspects of the FMP relating to summer flounder. The amendment will consider updating the FMP goals and objectives for summer flounder management, as well as modifications to summer flounder management strategies and measures needed to achieve those goals and objectives. 

Based on feedback received during the public scoping process in the fall of 2014, 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. 

Due to timing issues associated with updates to recreational data, the Council and Board have indicated that they plan to package alternatives for these issues as multiple separate amendments and/or framework actions in order to address some issues more quickly. Specifically, the current amendment timeline (as of May 2017) has a separate action being developed for commercial issues and FMP goals and objectives, with final action tentatively planned for Spring 2018.  Following completion of this action and release of revised recreational catch estimate time series, the Council and Board will develop alternatives for recreational issues and commercial/recreational allocation. 

Contacts

Amendment Status

At their joint May 2017 meeting, the Council and Board reviewed a draft range of alternatives for commercial fishery issues within the amendment, with the goal of prioritizing and providing feedback on the range of issues to be addressed. The Council and Board determined that moving forward, staff should prioritize analysis of the following issues: 1) permits and latent effort, 2) commercial allocation, and 3) landings flexibility. Other issues, including safe harbor policies, commercial data collection and monitoring, and commercial summer flounder discards, are currently or will be taken up through other actions and initiatives, including possible Commission-only actions, Council-only actions, Greater Atlantic Regional Office initiatives, and other projects. Staff will continue to work with the commercial working group, the Fishery Management Action Team, the Demersal Committee, and the Board to further refine and analyze the alternatives. The Council and Board will consider a refined range of alternatives for the prioritized issues at the August 2017 joint meeting.

The Council and Board may also pursue some recreational issues through a framework action and/or addendum. In February 2017, the Council and Board received preliminary guidance on which recreational issues under the Comprehensive Summer Flounder Amendment could potentially be addressed through a framework action. The Council and Board then revisited a tabled motion from the December meeting, and decided not to initiate a recreational framework action at this time. However, staff are continuing to work with the ASMFC technical committee to address summer flounder recreational issues. As analyses are completed, those results will be made available for possible consideration by the Council in a framework action. 

The FMAT and issue-specific working groups are continuing to meet throughout 2017 to develop draft alternatives and begin analyses for commercial alternatives and goals and objectives. 

Meetings


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 will likely be 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