I attended the NJ Marine Council meeting where summer flounder was discussed prior to the MiD-Atlantic Commission’s Public opinion meeting tonight
 The NJ Marine Council passed a motion that they will send to NJ DEP commissioner asking to leave the 2017 regulations at 2016 regulations until more data is available
 Unfortunately this is a useless motion in my opinion and while expresses the unhappiness with current proposed regulations for 2017 it will have little effect but that is just my opinion .  But good news is the NJ DEP commissioner is on the record against any changes which can’t hurt
 The meeting following the Council Meeting was  with Mid-Atlantic commission and the 3 NJ reps and it  was a packed house as the room was overflowing with standees all around the room
  Mid-Atlantic Rep presented the 5 proposals which basically had one with 3 fish at 18″ and 88 days   and other 4 with variations of 2-3 fish at 19″ and seasons of 88-103 days
  At the end of the presentation NJ Rep Tom Forte asked if anyone in room was in favor of any of the proposals and there was NO ONE
  So discussion period open where  fishermen could comment for the record which all  comments would go to Council members
   There were over 70 comments made with numerous variations  of proposals with majority asking to hold 2017 to 2016 until more data is presented but also a number asking for size reduction and limiting the take of fish over 18″. It was emphasized by several that 95%plus of fluke over 18″ are female and continuation of the high size will not allow for population increases
    Congressmen LoBiondo sent a Rep who read a much improved letter over the first one I saw  that  he sent to Commission. He detailed the need for more and better data  before moving forward and sighted several examples..Mike Sheppard of AC Press and me found it interesting the letter included a significant amount of info he and I sent the Congressman  2 weeks ago
    I was not going to comment until Tom Forte made a point that in 1990 according to the data we were only catching 15-17″ fluke while the size was 16″… This was in conflict with my data and I was encouraged to challenge it . So I did
  I provided 1990 average yearly size of 14.98″ and 2016 the average size was 14.78″  .I also pointed out April produced the largest fish of 19.8″ in 1990 and 18.9″ in 2016 and monthly size dropped every month following April every year. I also point out the smallest fish of the year is always July and August which was planned to make up the majority of the days allowed in all  options presented by Mid-Atlantic.
   In closing I reccomended an option that allowed 2 fish between 15-18″ and one over 18″ as an option for 2017 while we wait for better data.  This was followed by several others supporting that option
    While NJ fishermen got their points across it will take a lot more effort if we are to see relief in 2017
   THE DEADLINE for PUBLIC COMMENTS IS NOW JAN 19TH      so I would recommend anyone sending in comments to Mid-Atlantic they be put in mail by Jan 14th to assure they get there or email will also work but letters mailed may be more productive in my opinion
email  addrerss to
mailing address-krootes-murdy  at  ASMFC, 1050 N. Highland Street, Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, VA 22201.
  Getting any relief for 2017 will be a long shot and odds  are against us BUT there is a possibility with ENOUGH angry fishermen making contact with commission and Federal elected officials we could save 2017 from a disaster
   The above comments are mine and only meant to provide what info I can to interested fluke fishermen
     The window to get any changes is short and unless something changes will be finalized before March
Bill (bucktail willie)Shillingford