Recreational Fluke Paybacks Tabled

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The Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) met in August to consider approval of a "recreational payback" plan for the summer flounder fishery. The plan could lead to drastically shorter seasons, higher minimum size limits and smaller bag limits for recreational fishermen. After considerable discussion and a vote by the Board, action on the payback plan was tabled until this month. The Board came to the decision after considering a regulatory impact review released by the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service, which stated that "Given the history of the summer flounder fishery, the mitigating influence of annual overage adjustments, and the fact that the stock has shown continued improvement during the rebuilding period, despite the overages that have occurred, the cumulative impacts of overages are not considered to be significant. Likewise, the impacts of any overages that might occur in 2003 as a result of these fishery specifications are also not considered to be significant." The Recreational Fishing Alliance, which is opposed to paybacks, and others have filed a petition for an equitable division of the fluke catch. For more information, visit www.savefish.com.