Summer Flounder, Scup, Black Sea Bass
Summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass are among the most popular commercial and recreational fisheries in the Mid-Atlantic region. Although the summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries were subject to overfishing in the past, they have all been rebuilt to sustainable levels. Scup and black sea bass were declared rebuilt in 2009, and summer flounder was declared rebuilt in 2012. Follow the links below for more detailed information about the biology, landings, management, and status of each species.
The Council has managed the three species under a single fishery management plan (FMP) since 1996 when black sea bass and scup were incorporated into the summer flounder FMP. The management unit for summer flounder extends from the U.S.-Canadian border to the southern border of North Carolina, while the management units for scup and black sea bass extend from the U.S.- Canadian border to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. All three species migrate annually from inshore waters in the warmer months to offshore waters in the colder months. The exact timing of this migration varies with latitude.
Because of their presence in, and movement between, state waters (0-3 miles) and federal waters (3-200 miles), the Council manages summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass cooperatively with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The two management entities work in conjunction with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) as the federal implementation and enforcement entity.
The Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass FMP uses output controls (catch and landings limits) as the primary management tool, with landings divided between the commercial and recreational fisheries. The FMP also includes minimum fish sizes, bag limits, seasons, gear restrictions, permit requirements, and other provisions to prevent overfishing and ensure sustainability of the fisheries. Recreational bag/size limits and seasons are determined on a state-by-state basis using conservation equivalency. The commercial quota is divided into state-by-state quotas based on historical landings.
Actions Under Development
The Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission are considering a joint management action which would modify the dates of the commercial scup quota periods, while leaving all other management measures unchanged, including the possession limits for each quota period and allocations of quota among the periods.
The Council, in response to a 2015 petition from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, is considering the designation of 13 artificial reef sites as Special Management Zones (SMZs) in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off of New Jersey.
This amendment will involve a comprehensive review and update of the FMP’s goals and objectives and will consider changes to summer flounder management in both state and federal waters.
Fishery Management Plan and Amendments
Fishery Performance Reports
Fishery Information Documents
The Northeast Fisheries Science Center is currently seeking stock assessment workshop (SAW) working group applicants for the benchmark summer flounder stock assessment. Applications are due August 3.
The Council is seeking a contractor to evaluate the feasibility of developing a fishing mortality (F) based management approach for the recreational summer flounder fishery. Proposals are due by June 19, 2017.
The Council has initiated a framework action to review and modify accountability measures (AMs) for the commercial black sea bass fishery in response to new information indicating that commercial catch in 2015 exceeded the annual catch limit due to higher than anticipated discards.
On November 8, 2016, NOAA Fisheries announced a change to the southern and eastern boundaries of the Southern Scup Gear Restricted Area (in effect January 1-March 15), as recommended by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. This rule is intended to increase access to traditional squid fishing areas, while maintaining protection for juvenile scup.
NOAA Fisheries proposes modifications to the Southern Scup Gear Restricted Area, as recommended by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
Virginia Beach, VA – Last week the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) reviewed previously implemented specifications for scup, black sea bass and bluefish fisheries and modified specifications for summer flounder.
The Council has approved a framework action to modify the boundary of one of the region’s two Scup Gear Restricted Areas (GRAs). The proposed change to the Southern Scup GRA boundary is expected to increase the availability of longfin squid to small-mesh fisheries.
NOAA Fisheries is requesting comments on our proposed 2016-2018 regulations for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass.
The following summary highlights actions taken and issues considered at the Council’s meeting on October 6 – 8, 2015 in Philadelphia, PA.