Freeholders Praise Washington’s Approval Of Flounder Limits

File Photo

OCEAN COUNTY – The federal government’s decision to cap flounder fishing limits at levels favored by the state, county and local fishermen is a win for the entire Jersey Shore, Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari said.

“We are very pleased with this decision that maintains the limits that the state already imposes on daily flounder catches,” Vicari said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) earlier this month affirmed New Jersey’s summer-flounder fishing size, bag limits and the length of the fishing season, meaning all rules adopted by the state earlier this year will remain in effect through early September.

The decision also won final approval from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

In approving the state plan, Ross rejected a proposal to reduce the annual flounder haul by 34 percent and instead found that New Jersey’s existing rules are in compliance with the safe and sustainable management of summer flounder.

The Freeholders in April passed a resolution favoring the existing limits and rejecting the proposed 34 percent decrease, saying the change would have harmed the local tourism economy and done nothing to protect the flounder population.

The Barnegat Bay (Photo by Jason Allentoff)

“The earlier proposal by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission would have had a dramatic and disastrous effect on the residents of Ocean County, especially those that rely upon the summer flounder fishery for their livelihood,” Vicari said. “Some of our area fisherman said the change would have put them out of business.”

The decision means that the recreational summer flounder season, that began May 25 and runs through Sept. 5, remains unchanged.

The minimum size of a catch remains 18 inches for summer flounder along most coastal waters, including the ocean, estuaries and creeks. Anglers in these areas may keep three legally sized fish per day.

At Island Beach State Park the size limit for shore fishing is 16 inches, with a daily two-fish limit.

Vicari thanked Tom Fote of Jersey Coast Anglers Association and DEP Commissioner Bob Martin for their hard work in ensuring the state’s preferred rules were approved by the federal government.

“Working together we have won a victory that will help guarantee that future generations will continue to enjoy fishing in Ocean County,” he said.