The NJ DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife is advising the public that comments are being accepted until April 10 on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Draft Addendum III to Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for the Inshore Stocks of Winter Flounder. The Draft Addendum proposes an annual specification process to set commercial and recreational fisheries measures for the Gulf of Maine (GOM) and Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic (SNE/MA) fisheries.

The ASMFC manages the inshore stocks (0 – 3 miles from shore) of winter flounder in the GOM and SNE/MA. The New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) manages winter flounder in offshore waters (3 – 200 miles). NEFMC annually establishes specifications for winter flounder stocks, including an annual catch limit (ACL), the allocation of the ACL by sub-component, and accountability measures (AMs). The federal sub-components of the ACL are subject to the established AMs. These specifications are forwarded to NOAA Fisheries Northeast Region for final approval.

Since the ACL must account for all winter flounder harvest, state water harvest is estimated as part of the federal specification process. The state water estimate is not an allocation (ACL or a target), but an estimate of catch based on the state water landings history and state regulations in both the commercial and recreational fisheries.

The Draft Addendum proposes an annual specification process to set commercial and recreational fisheries measures, including trip limits, seasons, size limits, and possession limits, that are based on the federally-established state water sub-component ACL. These measures would be subject to review by the Commission’s Winter Flounder Technical Committee and approval by the Management Board. The Draft Addendum also proposes a harvest control measure using a trigger that will reduce commercial trip limits when a specified percentage of the state water sub-ACL is reached.

Since New Jersey is not conducting a public hearing on Draft Addendum III, fishermen and other interested groups are encouraged to provide written comments to ASMFC. Draft Addendum III is available on the Commission website ( www.asmfc.org/ ) under Breaking News or by contacting the Commission at 703.842.0740. Public comment will be accepted until 5:00 PM (EST) on April 10, 2013 and should be forwarded to Melissa Yuen, FMP Coordinator, at 1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; 703.842.0741 (FAX) or myuen@asmfc.org (Subject line: Winter Flounder Draft Addendum III). For more information, please contact Melissa Yuen at myuen@asmfc.org .

Logo courtesy New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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