For the first time, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will consider privately funded science in formulating regulations for summer flounder.
Funded by the Save the Summer Flounder Fishery Fund (SSFFF) and its contributing partners, a groundbreaking sex-structured model created by Dr. Patrick Sullivan of Cornell University was presented in January to the NMFS’ Stock Assessment Workshop in the hope of obtaining a clearer picture of the summer flounder population.
The ultimate goal is to improve the accuracy of the next stock assessment and consequent management advice.
The summer flounder fishery is of vital importance to the recreational and commercial fishing sectors along the Atlantic Seaboard and its continued health is a key concern among stakeholders.
Dr. Sullivan, who developed the model with renowned fisheries researcher Dr. Mark Maunder, presented the findings to NMFS staff at the Summer Flounder Stock Assessment Workgroup at Woods Hole, Mass.
During the past 10 years, Dr. Maunder has been working on fluke population research for SSFFF and his work has been highly successful in developing important findings that have helped stave off significant quota reductions.
Based on 10 years of research conducted by the SSFFF team of scientists, the group now believes that the present stock assessment does not represent the best available science. A new and comprehensive stock assessment model which incorporates the latest findings is considered critically important in guaranteeing the survival of this vital fishery.
Scientific experts like Maunder and Sullivan will broaden the scope of fisheries science and foster the improvements necessary for creating the best possible stock assessment.
It is SSFFF’s hope that new sex and length catch composition information gathered through extensive onboard studies completed last year by teams from both Cornell and Rutgers Universities and funded by SSFFF will lead to new management actions that allow spawning females a better degree of protection.
The process for developing the next summer flounder benchmark assessment is just starting and SSFFF assessment experts will have significant input into the process at an early stage to ensure that stakeholder voices are heard.
For more information on the Save The Summer Flounder Fishery Fund and its efforts, visit ssfff.net or call Greg Hueth at 732-492-6936