Bipartisan Call from NJ Lawmakers to Stop Summer Flounder Quota Cuts

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries’ proposed summer flounder catch limits for 2017-18 have drawn bipartisan opposition from New Jersey lawmakers. U.S. Representatives Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J. 6th) and Frank LoBiondo (N.J.-2nd), along with Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker and Congressman Tom MacArthur (N.J.-3rd), wrote U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker last week requesting she prevent rule-making that would reduce the summer flounder quotas for recreational and commercial fishing.

“The letter asks the Secretary to direct NOAA Fisheries to reexamine its methodologies and conduct a new benchmark summer flounder assessment before making any decision to reduce summer flounder quotas,” notes a press release from LoBiondo’s office.

According to NOAA Fisheries, the July 2016 summer flounder assessment update indicated that overfishing continued through 2015, and the biomass continues to decline; therefore, the administration proposed “a 30 percent reduction from catch limits previously implemented for the 2017 fishing year and a 16 percent reduction from current 2018 allocations. We are proposing these measures in order to ensure sustainability of summer flounder stocks for future generations of fishermen and consumers.”

As the legislators stated in their letter to Pritzker, “This rule will have a dramatic impact on coastal communities in New Jersey that rely on the summer flounder fishery, harming the livelihoods of recreational and commercial fishermen. The consequences of allowing this rule to go forward are serious, and we respectfully request that you consider taking emergency action to prevent these quota reductions from going into effect.

“These reductions will harm coastal communities that rely on the recreational and commercial fishing industries along the Jersey Shore,” they added. “From 2007 to 2014, JCAA has reported that there was a loss of two million fishing trips in New Jersey, and 40 percent of fishing trips in New Jersey are in pursuit of summer flounder. In short, these communities are already struggling, and these reductions will result in lost jobs for fishermen, and hardship for their families. Those working in the tourism and boating industries along the Shore will be adversely impacted as well.”

Read the full letter at lobiondo.house.gov. The proposal is available at federalregister.gov.

– Reposted from The Sandpaper