Posted on January 3rd, 2017
I just returned from the public hearing put on by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission at the Ocean Pines Library and heard a presentation that may have Maryland flounder regulations changing for 2017. Although the 2017 regulations were released by the MD Department of Natural Resources a little over a week ago, those numbers could change based on options put forth by ASMFC.
Maryland’s current limit of 16″, four fish per person and a year long season will likely be fine to stay under our 2017 quota, but New Jersey, New York and Connecticut must make major reductions. Like I was early on, you may be thinking “who cares about other states” when it comes to MD flounder regulations. After listening to two representatives from the MD DNR it seems that there are some behind the scenes negotiations between the states on the commission that suggest we play nicely.
Option 1 was a fish sharing option amongst states that called for 0% change for the region of MD, DE and VA which would leave our regulations the same with a 16″ size limit, a creel limit of 4 fish per person and a 365 day season.
Option 2 was a 1″ size increase as a minimum reduction which would change our regulations to a 17″ size limit, 4 fish per person creel limit and a 365 day season.
Option 3 was a 30% reduction as a minimum which would change our regulations to a 17″ size limit, 3 fish per person creel limit and a 365 day season.
Option 4 included both a 1″ size increase AND a 30% reduction as minimums which would also change our regulations to a 17″ size limit, 3 fish per person creel limit and a 365 day season.
Option 5 called for more coastwide consistency and would change our regulations to a 17″ size limit, four fish per person creel limit and a 365 day season. Option 5 calls for moving away from an allocation for each state based on data from 1998. Option 5 was thought to be a bad idea for MD because of this. The feeling is if we move away from 1998 allocation numbers Md’s allocation of the coastwise allocation for summer flounder could shrink. The DNR representatives suggested steering clear of this option and that is good enough for me.
We were asked to provide public comment on which option we prefer so that ASMFC can make it’s recommendation on the size limit, creel limit and season length for each state to reach it’s required reduction if applicable. Based on the comment provided by those in attendance the room seemed divided between options 1 and 2. There was one vote for option 5. There were no votes for options 3 and 4. Those in favor of option 1 don’t want to see any increase in our size limit from 16″ to 17″, especially if it is only to benefit another states regulations. Those in favor of option 2 are ok with the 1″ increase as long as our season stays open year round and we have a 4 fish per person creel limit. We are of the mindset that if Maryland is on the short end of the stick in the future that other states will keep our quota sharing in mind.
The time for public comment will be open for another couple of weeks and it sounds like a final decision will be made on our 2017 flounder regulations sometime in the spring. Until then we open the season with a 16″ size limit, a 4 fish per person creel limit and the season is open now through December 31…..but that may change.
TO BE CONTINUED……..