Summer Flounder Cut Finalized, But ASA is Hopeful for Relief

Federal fisheries managers recently finalized a plan that will cut summer flounder fishing by up to 40 percent. While the sportfishing community supports conserving this important fishery, this plan is highly questionable because it is based on an outdated benchmark stock assessment from 2013 and uncertain angler harvest estimates.

Earlier this month, the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council voted for summer flounder regulations to instead remain at status quo levels. Numerous Members of Congress have called on NOAA Fisheries to postpone the quota reduction as a new benchmark assessment is in the works.

Since the summer flounder recreational fishery supports more than 10,000 jobs and generates over one billion in sales, such an important decision needs to be based on the latest scientific data. ASA is hopeful that this issue can be addressed by the incoming Administration.

The National Academy of Sciences Releases New Report on MRIP

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) recently completed a comprehensive follow-up review to its 2006 analysis of NOAA Fisheries' saltwater recreational information collection efforts, now known as the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP).

Although many of the major recommendations from the 2006 report have been addressed, the NAS report notes that challenges remain, such as incorporating technological advances in data collection and enhancing communication with anglers and other stakeholders.

The report also questions what ASA believes to be a fundamental problem with federal fisheries management – whether MRIP is capable of managing to annual catch limits with in-season adjustments. The NAS report provides sound recommendations for further evaluating electronic data, such as from smartphone apps, which provide tremendous potential to provide supplementary angler catch data with significantly greater response rate and timeliness.

ASA is advising NOAA Fisheries and Congress to act upon the recommendations described in the NAS report to improve saltwater recreational fishing harvest data, and ultimately, federal saltwater recreational fishing management as a whole.

Recreational Fishing Supporters Appointed to the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee

The Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere has appointed John Ballotti and Chris Horton to four-year terms on the 20-member Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee (MPA FAC). The two will represent the interests and perspectives of recreational anglers in advising NOAA and the Department of Interior on issues related to the nation’s Marine Protected Areas.

John is a member of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) California Board of Directors and Executive Committee, president of the Los Angeles chapter of CCA California and a member of the board of directors of the Los Angeles Rod and Reel Club. Chris is the Midwestern States Director for the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF).