Summer Flounder Stock Rebounded, Feds Say

CITY – Federal fisheries officials last week announced the summer flounder
stock in the mid-Atlantic region has officially rebounded, resulting in
increased quotas in 2011 and perhaps a loosening next year of the regulations
that have choked one of the staples of the resort fishing community.

reviewing the second and third wave of catch data collected on summer flounder
thus far this year, the federal Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council last
week voted to increase the 2011 commercial and recreational summer flounder
harvest quota by as much as 8.5 million pounds, from 25.4 million pounds this
year to nearly 34 million pounds next year.

proposed increase is being viewed as good news for recreational anglers as the
prognosis for the summer flounder seemed so dim just a few months ago. In
March, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources floated several proposals
including keeping the minimum keeper size for summer flounder at 18.5 inches
with a season closure in mid-September.

the local fishing community mobilized and launched a successful campaign for a
slightly larger minimum keeper size of 19 inches and a season that closed on
Nov. 22, keeping a vital inshore fishery alive in the Ocean City area still
smarting from an abrupt closure of the black sea bass fishery a year ago.

to Maryland Saltwater Sportfishing Association Executive Director Dave Smith,
the latest catch report data showed the harvest total thus far this year at
about half of the total at the same time last year with 12,000 keeper flounder
caught compared to 24,000 last year.

good news is, the Mid-Atlantic Counsel just issued a statement claiming the
flounder are considered rebuilt and they are, therefore, increasing our total
harvest level for 2011 to 101,000 fish,” he said. “This will either mean a
longer season or smaller size limits, both of which are positive for
recreational anglers. Again, this is all dependent on our 2010 wave four data.”

jury is still out on the rest of the summer flounder season and a spike in the
catch data through the end of the season could change the federal agency’s
apparent stance.

recreational fishermen won’t know what this means in terms of regulations until
November at the very least,” said Recreational Fishing Alliance spokesman Adam
Nowalksy. “As anglers have come to recognize year after year, now we have to
wait for this season’s landings information to come through to forecast how
that compares to the 2011 recreational allowable landings.”