Two New Jersey congressmen representing portions of the Jersey Shore are set to introduce a bill that seeks to prevent pending summer flounder quota limits from going into effect.
The bill by Reps. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-6) and Frank LoBiondo (R-2) would maintain the 2016 quota levels and require that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conduct a new assessment before issuing new quotas.
The proposed NOAA quota calls for a reduction of summer flounder recreational and commercial limits by 30% in 2017 and 16% in 2018.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission had previously said summer flounder populations are not meeting projections, arguing that setting new quota limits could help protect the species from overfishing.
The commission proposed a limit of three summer flounders at least 19 inches long. In 2016, the limit was capped at five fish at least 18 inches long.
That’s drawn the ire of anglers, business owners, and politicians.
“These cuts are a body blow to the recreational fishing industry in New Jersey and that is why Congress needs to take action,” Pallone said in a news release. “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.”
LoBiondo slammed bureaucrats for producing what he says are severely flawed 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,” the congressman said in the release. “The use of questionable methodologies and outdated science by NOAA bureaucrats will cut our fishing industry off at the knees.”
The pending bill is the latest effort by the representatives in a bipartisan fight against the new quota.
Pallone and LoBiondo last month sent a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker asking her to prevent the rule from going into effect and reexamine the assessment methodology before any quota decision is made.