12/12/2007 - Regional and state fishing regulators made final recommendations on Tuesday for a relatively modest cutback in next year's summer flounder catch — but red lights are flashing in the federal management bureaucracy, whose own experts warn that scenario means recreational anglers are likely to overrun the catch quota yet again in 2008.
At a joint meeting, the National Marine Fisheries Service's Northeast regional administrator, Patricia A. Kurkul, pointedly warned that the agency aims to stem those estimated catch overages, which a federal angling survey has reported virtually every year since the early 1990s.
"We are not arguing for a moratorium. I'll say that flat out," said Lee Crockett, who heads fisheries reform efforts for the Pew Charitable Trusts. But fishing advocates are mistaken in calling for changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act because of the fluke situation, he added.
"Ending overfishing was the primary thing Congress wanted to do in the reauthorization" of the law last year, Crockett said. "They carved out an exemption for fluke" by extending the rebuilding deadline three years to 2013, he said.
"What I'd much rather do than going to war over changing the law is looking for ways to fix this," Crockett said.
Environmental groups and fishermen should work on ways out, such as a catch reporting system and "slot limits" that would allow fishermen to take a limited number of smaller fish daily while achieving overall conservation goals, he said.
Read the full article Overfishing Ultimatum on Horizon for 2008 on the Asbury Park Press Web site.