NMFS Weighing Privately Funded Assessment of Summer Flounder Stock

For the first time, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will consider privately funded science in formulating regulations for summer flounder.

Funded by the Save the Summer Flounder Fishery Fund (SSFFF) and its contributing partners, a groundbreaking sex-structured model created by Dr. Patrick Sullivan of Cornell University was presented in January to the NMFS’ Stock Assessment Workshop in the hope of obtaining a clearer picture of the summer flounder population.

The ultimate goal is to improve the accuracy of the next stock assessment and consequent management advice.

The summer flounder fishery is of vital importance to the recreational and commercial fishing sectors along the Atlantic Seaboard and its continued health is a key concern among stakeholders.

Dr. Sullivan, who developed the model with renowned fisheries researcher Dr. Mark Maunder, presented the findings to NMFS staff at the Summer Flounder Stock Assessment Workgroup at Woods Hole, Mass.

During the past 10 years, Dr. Maunder has been working on fluke population research for SSFFF and his work has been highly successful in developing important findings that have helped stave off significant quota reductions.

Based on 10 years of research conducted by the SSFFF team of scientists, the group now believes that the present stock assessment does not represent the best available science. A new and comprehensive stock assessment model which incorporates the latest findings is considered critically important in guaranteeing the survival of this vital fishery.

Scientific experts like Maunder and Sullivan will broaden the scope of fisheries science and foster the improvements necessary for creating the best possible stock assessment.

It is SSFFF’s hope that new sex and length catch composition information gathered through extensive onboard studies completed last year by teams from both Cornell and Rutgers Universities and funded by SSFFF will lead to new management actions that allow spawning females a better degree of protection.

The process for developing the next summer flounder benchmark assessment is just starting and SSFFF assessment experts will have significant input into the process at an early stage to ensure that stakeholder voices are heard.
For more information on the Save The Summer Flounder Fishery Fund and its efforts, visit ssfff.net or call Greg Hueth at 732-492-6936

  1. Peter Garby

    Have any fluke over 7.5 lbs. catch and release because these are female breeder stock. Take a picture and release. A fluke this big has fillets too big for most dining pleasure. A restaurant does not want one bigger than 14′ to serve its customers. Dues not provide a tempting display on a customers plate.

    • Brian Huggard

      There people go, restaurants don’t want anything over 14′? Really? Then why is the minimum 14′ commercially? Guess all restaurants buy illegally caught fish?

    • Jon

      Ok with me ..so tell the fing.commercial guys to stop..good luck ..hell they just butchered a monster at the mud hole last Week ..i.m tired of preaching..

    • Jon

      Funny stuff. Grandpa went fishing in his days never ran out of any fish ..flounder..porgys..blowfish..weakfish..etc..never had a slot ..a barely limit ..no fines .no hassles.people happy. Bait stores thriving..etc.. again to take my family fishing costs. Alot..but I keep it up cause I do..answer is ????.

    • Joe graber

      You are absolutely correct about the size and taste of the larger fluke.
      Where there needs to be education is that they are all females.
      Males seldom grow past 18inches.
      So allowing the commercial industry to catch their quota of fish is killing off the majority of males. Plate size fish are mostly males.
      The commercial industry doesn’t care about the sex…just the size.
      Are they throwing back anything bigger? They are being caught but dont count in the total tonnage of each license.
      You can’t kill the males and also the breeding females and expect the fisheries to remain sustainable.

  2. Mark R

    I am absolutely in favor of a rigorous scientific approach. However, it seems unlikely that this piece of news was actually published by the “National Marine Fisheries Service” since there is no mention of it on their own website and the references are to SSFFF, and not NMFS. This piece of advertising by a pressure group should be flagged as such.

  3. Jeff Davis

    Keep the smaller ones, the males, to take home & eat; catch & release the larger fish, often the females that will reproduce the species. Larger would be defined as any fish 24″ and over, Minimum = 17.5″, Limit 3 fish per angler, Season + May 21 to Sept. 26.

    • You are right why take out females that reproduced are forced to do it

      Why some states in my area have different bag and size Del are 16 in. Nj are 18 in ocean and 17in. In Del .bay same water fish along side them . I have to throw back smaller fish they keep

  4. Phil

    “It seems unlikely this piece of news was actually published by the (NMFS) since there is no mention of it on their own website……”

    Right….. because NMFS has always been open and transparent in everything they’ve done to date. (Note: sarcasm alert !)

  5. RHT

    Let me see if I get this right. In the 1980’s summer flounder recreation harvest totals were 40 million pounds. In 2014, the rec harvest was 7.4 million pounds. The article states that over the last 10 years the work of these two scientist was used to justify non-reduction in harvest quotas. So recreational fisherman should be somehow be happy about private funding of individuals who seem to support continued reduction in the fishery. Did I read this wrong or was it poorly written?

  6. vince s

    So, it’s going to take a few more million dollars to figure out what to do? Somehow it seems that there are other forces at work here. Up to 10 years ago, catching a fine limit of 14″ fish was easy and quick. Not as many fish were killed in shorts. We all know, throat and gut hooked fish hardly have a chance to survive after anglers tore the lure out of these fish. Multiply that by the thousands of anglers on private, charters and head boats every day of the season and one would have to have their head in the sand or another motive altogether to not recognize the fact that making people throw back good eating respectable sized fish and keeping only the big breeders is decimating the fishery. The last ten years have seen ridiculous minimum sizes that to cull together a limit, tons of fish to 20″ and more recently thankfully, 19″, 18″, 17″ fish have to be discarded to catch a few keepers. Instead of fishing for a few hours to get some fillets for dinner, it’s now taking a full day trip. Add in that the commercial fishery is also handcuffed and it really starts to feel that something is rotten to the core of the “management” side.
    So, let’s spend a few more millions to “figure out what’s best”. Sounds like keeping a doormat will be totally illegal and the slot will become a ridiculous size to boot. If the limit is say 16′ and a bag of 4 or 5 fish, the results will be less doormats kept since people will reach the limit much more quickly and the pressure on the breeders will be reduced substantially. Add in a doormat restriction for a set amount of years, let’s agree on three years, and this robust producing specie will build itself up again in no time at all.


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