The New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council is considering six options for the 2013 summer flounder season, and all involve cutbacks.
The council is scheduled to meet today in Galloway Township to hear from the fishing public and decide which of the six options to pick. Last year’s regulations gave anglers 147 days of flounder fishing, but this year’s options range from 117 days to 135 days.
Setting the regulations is an annual event that follows the fish councils that regulate flounder giving New Jersey a harvest amount for the year. The council gets to consider several options that include different bag limits, seasons and minimum fish sizes.
Last year, anglers had a bag limit of five fish per day, a season from May 5 to Sept. 28 and a minimum fish size of 17.5 inches.
But anglers are facing a 10 percent cut in landings this year, so each of the six options results in fewer days on the water. All six options include a five-fish bag limit, but there are differences on sizes and seasons.
Here are the options:
Option 1: 17.5-inch fish, bag limit of 5, season May 11-Sept. 4
Option 2: 17.5-inch fish, bag limit of 5, season May 18-Sept. 16
Option 3: 17.5-inch fish, bag limit of 5, season May 24-Sept. 22
Option 4: 18-inch fish, bag limit of 5, season May 25-Oct. 2
Option 5: 18-inch fish, bag limit of 5, season May 18-Sept. 26
Option 6: 18-inch fish, bag limit of 5, season May 1-Sept. 12
Anglers often are divided on whether to go for a smaller fish size or a longer season. Sometimes there are regional differences of opinion as southern New Jersey gets the fish earlier in the year. Sometimes there are different opinions from ocean anglers and back-bay anglers. Bay waters warm up earlier and often get the fish first. Some argue to have the season cover the Memorial Day holiday, while others are more adamant about Labor Day.
No matter what is decided, it will mean fewer fish. The East Coast summer flounder catch is slated to be cut from 21.22 million pounds to 19.07 million pounds. The catch is divided, with 60 percent going to the commercial industry and 40 percent to anglers. New Jersey gets 39.2 percent of the recreational quota, more than 3.3 million pounds last year, but has to reduce that by about 340,000 pounds. The reduction is being blamed on a decline in the spawning stock.
Contact Richard Degener: