Flounder story

Zach Robbins, a mate aboard the Starlight in Wildwood Crest, displays a 3lb flounder caught during a fishing trip. The Starlight one of many party fishing boats that tourist can enjoy a day of fishing Sunday June 26, 2016, (Dale Gerhard/Press of Atlantic City)

Dozens of New Jersey officials, lawmakers and fishermen will gather Friday in Ocean County to voice their opposition to proposed cuts to the summer flounder harvest.

The event, billed as a mix between a press conference and a rally, comes less than a week before federal officials could give final approval to the reduction plan, which would slash this year’s flounder catch by 40 percent.

Commissioner Bob Martin of the state Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-6th, and others will take part in the event, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Fishermen’s Supply Co., a large bait and tackle shop in Point Pleasant Beach.

The reduction plan, which would greatly tighten restrictions on summer flounder, was advanced last month at a meeting of the Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

It is scheduled to be discussed at an AFMC meeting Feb. 2 in Virginia, and final action could be taken on the proposal at that time.

The plan has been roundly condemned by South Jersey politicians and recreational fishermen, who say the move would cripple the fishing industry in the region.

“In effect, these actions will result in a moratorium on one of our most important recreational fish species,” Martin said in a statement last month.

On Monday, the Assembly voted unanimously to pass a resolution urging the National Oceanic and Atmospheric to conduct a new benchmark flounder assessment before applying any reductions.

The harvest reductions were recommended after federal fishery experts reported that the summer flounder stock is in an overfishing situation.

Under the proposed plan, New Jersey recreational fishermen could see size and bag limits drop from five fish at 18 inches in the Atlantic Ocean to two or three fish at 18 or 19 inches and have the length of the fishing season reduced.

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Contact: 609-272-7411

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jtomczuk@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressTomczuk

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