2017 fishing season update

I attended the Advisers meeting with the NJ Marine Council tonight on summer flounder and Sea Bass

Summer flounder options were
#1 keep 2016 regulations in place of 5 over 18″ and 128 day season
#2 The ASMFC approved regulations of 3 fish over 19″ 128 days
#3 3 fish over 18″ and a 99 day season

All advisers were in agreement we should go with #1 to open the season and allow the NJ pressure on Sec of Commerce play out. Last count was in addition to NJ commissioner who is representing the Governor there currently are 11 Congressional people from NJ all in agreement and having meetings with the New Secretary
None of the regulations approved by Mid-Atlantic Council can go into effect until Sec of Commerce signs off

The risk are as follows
#1–Rejection which would happen sometime mid-summer and result in a complete shutdown of flounder fishing
#2– Final decision pushed out until Oct
Mid-Atlantic Council meeting following more available information on stock size
# 3-Sec does not sign off on anything for 2017 which means 2016 regulations will remain in effect the entire season
The April meeting of the NJ Marine Council on April 13th will present these proposals and recommendations.

I suspect the April meeting on summer flounder will result in no decisions and council will wait for Fed’s meeting in May. However in my opinion 80% plus chance season will open with 2016 regulations. Delaying could keep 2016 regulations in effect thru July while the process goes through the required steps

There is significant risk but all agreed the risk is well worth it given the potential economic impact on NJ

Sea Bass
Sea Bass will stay almost the same as 2016 with
10 fish over 12.5″ from May 26th to June 18th 24 days
2 fish over 12.5″ from July 1 to August 31 62 days
15 fish over 12.5″ from OCT 22nd to Dec 31st 71 days

There was another option that provided 4 more days but it would have had a 13″ size in the last segment of the year

So we can expect to open as we did last year and where it goes from there will be interesting to follow BUT NJ seems to be confident they will have support of the New Sec of Commerce

If you have any questions I will try to answer . I will attend the Marine Council meeting on April 13th and if anything changes I will be back and report

bill shillingford