The summer flounder, or fluke (Paralichthys dentatus)supports the most important commercial and recreational flatfishfisheries of the U.S. Atlantic coast. Thestock and fishery range from Massachusetts toNorth Carolina. Spawning takes place during aprotracted season that can extend fromSeptember to March, during an annual offshoreand southern migration to the outer continentalshelf off Virginia and North Carolina. Thefish are con-centrated in bays and estuariesfrom late spring through early autumn, when thenext offshore migration begins. The assessmentand management of the summer flounder fisheryhas been very contentious since theimplementation of the joint Atlantic StatesMarine Fisheries Commission/Mid-AtlanticFishery Management Council Fishery ManagementPlan (FMP) in 1989, when the poor status of thesummer flounder stock was evident toscientists, managers, and fishermen. Amendment2 to the FMP, approved in 1992, implementedseveral major regulatory provisions includingannual commercial quotas and recreationalharvest limits, and annually adjustable minimumlanded fish sizes, minimum mesh sizes,possession limits, and seasonal closures. By1999, fishing mortality on summer flounder haddeclined to its lowest level since the 1960s,and summer flounder total stock biomass was thehighest since the mid-1970s. Monitoring ofstock status is ongoing to reliably determine``how much fish is enough'' to provide forlong-term sustainability. Many changes are madeannually to management measures due todiffering interpretations of stock status bymanagers, and fishery and environmentaladvocacy groups. Attainment of the annualfishing mortality targets remains elusive. Themultiple layers of science, management, andpolitics in place since 1992 continue to sparkmuch controversy and litigation that increasingly places the management of the summer flounder fishery in the hands of the courts.
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 3, 2004
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