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.

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 that will be considered in the Summer Flounder Commercial Issues Amendment include: 

  1. Fishery Management Plan (FMP) goals and objectives for summer flounder,
  2. Commercial management measures and strategies, including: 
    1. Federal commercial moratorium permit requalifcation
    2. Commercial allocation 
    3. Landings flexibility FMP framework provisions

On March 29, 2018, NOAA Fisheries has released a supplemental notice of intent (NOI) seeking public comments on the Council and Board's proposal to modify the scope of the amendment formerly referred to as the “Comprehensive Summer Amendment.” The purpose of this comment opportunity is to allow the public to comment on the decision to modify the scope of the amendment. The Council and Commission are continuing to analyze a previously approved range of alternatives and developing a draft amendment document for public review. The public will have future opportunities to comment on the amendment during a formal public hearing process. Additional details and instructions for submitting comments are available in the notice published in the Federal Register.


Amendment Status

The Council and Board considered Demersal Committee recommendations in December 2017, and made the following recommendations on each of the four amendment issues:

  1. Federal permit requalification: The Council and Board approved the Committee recommendation to narrow the previously approved range of alternatives for federal permit requalification from 20 options down to seven options for a public hearing document.
  2. Commercial allocation: The Council and Board approved the Committee recommendations to move forward with four alternatives for commercial allocation for a public hearing document. These options include: 2A) no action/status quo, 2B) revised state-by-state quotas using an analysis of a regional shift in exploitable biomass over time, 2C) modified distribution of additional quota above a certain commercial quota trigger (with two trigger sub-options), and 2D) commercial quota management similar to the scup commercial fishery, with two coastwide "Winter" seasonal periods and a state-by-state "Summer" period (with sub-options for exempting or not exempting the state of Maryland). The group requested some additional analysis for configuration of Alternative 2B prior to approval for public hearings.
  3. Landings flexibility framework provisions: The Council and Board made no changes to their August 2017 recommendation for commercial landings flexibility, which was to include an alternative in the amendment to add landings flexibility as a frameworkable item within the Council's FMP.
  4. FMP goals and objectives: The Committee approved draft language for revised FMP goals and objectives for summer flounder, for inclusion in a public hearing document.

The Council and Board will meet on April 30, 2018 to review a draft public hearing document for the amendment. Following this meeting, the Council will consider approving a Draft Environmental Impact Statement later in Spring 2018. Public hearings are tentatively planned for Summer 2018.


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