Commercial fishermen on the draggers seen offshore last week took advantage of calmer seas and the State Department of Environmental Conservation’s raising of the daily limit on fluke from 70 to 210 pounds. The higher limit was in effect from Dec. 18 through Friday as the state’s annual quota for the fish, highly sought by commercial and recreational fishermen alike, had not been reached.
Nonetheless, the annual catch limit for the greater Atlantic region, as set by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is needlessly small and based, fishermen say, on flawed and outdated data. If NOAA’s recently announced 2017 and 2018 limits are not revised, fishermen will be further restricted with respect to fluke, or summer flounder.
Last Thursday, Senator Charles Schumer called on the United States Department of Commerce to pressure NOAA to conduct a new, science-based assessment of annual quotas for the fish. Mr. Schumer was reacting to NOAA’s release the day before of 2017 and 2018 catch quotas. He called for an updated benchmark assessment to be conducted as soon as possible.