On Friday, January 27, at 10 a.m., Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin and U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone joined dozens of members of New Jersey’s fishing community, state legislators, and local officials at Fisherman’s Supply Co. in Point Pleasant Beach to announce their opposition to proposed federal cuts for summer flounder, petitioning for status quo for the 2017 fluke regulations.
The press conference was in response to votes last month by the Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council that could reduce New Jersey’s recreational harvest limit for summer flounder, or fluke, by as much as 50 percent, which would have dramatic, adverse impacts to the state’s fishing industry and shore tourism.
“Fishing is a part of the tourism,” said Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo. “Telling a tourist they can’t catch a fluke is like telling them they can’t eat a Jersey tomato.”
Captain Jeff Gutman, owner/operator of the Voyager out of Point Pleasant said, “The fluke fishery is the backbone of the New Jersey recreational fishery, it’s one of the first fisheries that children are introduced to, and is a true family activity. These draconian measures will doom an already hurting recreational fishing industry and deny the public access to what we know is a healthy fishery.”
“This is an unprecedented level of cooperation and one of the few times I can recall that stakeholders have been allowed this level of participation at the table, and I hope we will see the trend continue. I hope that this is the start of a new direction, one based on cooperation not confrontation,” said Nick Cicero, founding board member of the Save The Summer Flounder Fishery Foundation. “Our focus was, and always will be about what’s best for the resource, and how we can ensure that it remains healthy and accessible for future generations. I hope that this is the beginning of a new blueprint for dealing with issues as complicated as managing a fishery that is in a constant state of change and has to satisfy so many different expectations.”
“It was great to see the fishing community come together, and to have our voices heard,” said On The Water Publisher Chris Megan. “I look forward to seeing a more sustainable plan that allows the recreational fishing industry to thrive while keeping the fluke population healthy for generations to come.”