LONG BRANCH – Reps. Frank LoBiondo and Frank Pallone on Thursday, Feb. 23 announced plans to introduce new legislation to prevent the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2017 and 2018 summer flounder quotas for recreational and commercial fishing from going into effect.
In a press release, Pallone and LoBiondo said the rules would do damage to the economies of coastal communities and the state.
Under the NOAA quotas, the allowed summer flounder catch for recreational and commercial fishing were both reduced by approximately 30 percent in 2017 and 16 percent in 2018.
The Pallone-LoBiondo legislation would maintain the 2016 quota levels and require that NOAA conduct a new assessment before issuing new quotas.
Last month, Pallone and LoBiondo and a bipartisan group from the New Jersey congressional delegation sent a letter to then-U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker asking her to prevent rule making that would reduce the summer flounder quotas for recreational and commercial fishing from going into effect. The letter asked the secretary to direct NOAA Fisheries to reexamine its methodologies and conduct a new benchmark summer flounder assessment before making any decision to reduce summer flounder quotas.
“We are united with the state in fighting these draconian cuts to New Jersey fishermen which allow neighboring states to freely pillage our waters at more favorable limits,” said LoBiondo, a District 2 Republican. “The use of questionable methodologies and outdated science by NOAA bureaucrats will cut our fishing industry off at the knees. This bipartisan legislation is the next effort in our fight against these severely flawed quotas.”
“These cuts are a body blow to the recreational fishing industry in New Jersey and that is why Congress needs to take action,” said Pallone, Democrat representing New Jersey's 6th Congressional District. “The recreational fishing industry contributes over $1 billion to our state’s economy and directly supports 20,000 jobs. The cuts for New Jersey are greater than what NOAA had required for the region, and too many anglers and their families are going to suffer because of them.”
Recently, Pallone appeared before the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to reiterate his opposition to NOAA’s quota reductions because of the harm they would cause New Jersey coastal communities.
According to the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, 2016 summer flounder regulations for recreational anglers require an 18-inch minimum size and five-fish possession limit. The rule for the Delaware Bay is a 17-inch minimum size limit and four-fish possession limit. The season is open from May 21 through Sept. 25.
Under the new rules the maximum fish count or bag limit decreases to three fish and the minimum size goes up to 19 inches on the New Jersey coast and 18 inches in Delaware Bay.
Commercial quotas are measured in pounds per trip and vary depending on the time of year.
Following the decision on the new rules, LoBiondo met with New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin in Washington to coordinate next steps in fighting it.