Statement of Lee Crockett, Director, Federal Fisheries Policy Reform Project, on the Final 2008 Summer Flounder Catch Limit

Contact: Jo Knight, 202.552.2070

Washington, D.C. - 12/27/2007 - On December 31, 2007 the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will publish its final 2008 catch limit for summer flounder (fluke).  The 15.77 million pounds quota exceeds science-based recommendations to rebuild this popular Mid-Atlantic food and sportfish.  

Below is the statement of Lee Crockett, director, The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Federal Fisheries Policy Reform Project, on the final 2008 summer flounder catch limit.

"Despite the unprecedented outpouring of public support for a lower catch limit, NMFS chose to rubber stamp the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s recommendation which, based on the history of this fishery, will likely fail to rebuild the summer flounder population.  

“Instead of creating more problems with higher catch limits, we should be looking for ways to help fish and fishermen alike.  Fishermen could help scientists collect data on the number of fish caught for better management decisions -- and supplement their incomes until fluke populations are fully rebuilt.

“Last year, Congress reauthorized the nation’s primary fisheries law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and mandated an end to overfishing on all marine fish populations through the use of science-based catch limits.  Moreover, President Bush announced that overfishing is harmful and that it needs to end now.  But instead of abiding by the Magnuson-Stevens Act and implementing the president’s call to action, NMFS has decided to roll the dice and continue the failed practices of the past which have perpetuated overfishing on summer flounder.

“If President Bush really wants to create a lasting ocean legacy, he should direct NMFS to faithfully implement the law.  Doing otherwise could set a dangerous precedent for the future of fisheries management up and down our coasts.”

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