Flounder fishery regulations will be part of the discussion next week at a meeting of two fishery management bodies in Annapolis, Maryland.
"The purpose of next week's meeting is to make a decision on whether or not the federal government will put in place a coastwide measure and all states will fish under the same regulations, or if it will defer to individual states," said Adam Nowalsky, a former charter boat captain out of Atlantic City.
Under something called conservation equivalency, states have the right to set different regulations if they are expected to achieve the same level of harvest, Nowalsky said.
"Conservation equivalency will be the direction I expect things to go," he said.
Last year New Jersey defied the ASMFC and federal regulations, and eventually won the right from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the federal Commerce Department to set its own rules. The state convinced those bodies its regulations would be as protective to the species.
Nowalsky is a member of both groups that are meeting on the issue. He is one of three members from New Jersey on the federal Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, and also is a proxy commissioner on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which is a coalition of coastal states from Maine to Florida.
The flounder issue is expected to come up Tuesday, Nowalsky said.
Other issues of importance to South Jersey are consideration of an amendment that will potentially change New Jersey's allocation of summer flounder for the commercial fishery, and a discussion of black sea bass management.
Nowalsky said black sea bass is at 230 percent of its target biomass, "yet we continue to see in the recreational community more restrictive measures put in place year after year as result of the management process."
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council's December 2017 meeting is Dec. 11 to 14. From Dec. 12 to 13, there will be a joint meeting of the MAFMC and ASMFC's Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass and Bluefish Boards.
For more information, including online access to the meeting and how to submit comments, visit mafmc.org/newsfeed/2017/december-2017-council-meeting-agenda.