Lee Crockett, director of federal fisheries policy for The Pew Environment Group, issued this statement today in response to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council's decision to increase the quota for summer flounder by 7.35 million pounds to 29.48 million pounds for 2011. This reflects an 86.9 percent increase from a low of 15.77 million pounds in 2008. A National Marine Fisheries Service assessment indicated that the rebuilding plan is working and the summer flounder population has reached 89 percent of healthy levels.
"Twenty years ago, the Mid-Atlantic summer flounder population dropped to less than 15 percent of sustainable levels, due to overfishing. But thanks to a strengthened rebuilding plan, this fish has bounced back and is almost fully restored to healthy levels. The National Marine Fisheries Service considers summer flounder as one of the region's most commercially and recreationally important fish. This remarkable success story offers further proof that management plans, based on sound science that stop overfishing and allow depleted populations to rebuild, really work.
"A fully rebuilt summer flounder population will mark an unprecedented milestone for the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. This will be the first time that all species - where the status is known - managed by the Council will be thriving at sustainable levels. We commend the Council for its efforts.
"Healthy fish populations provide better fishing opportunities; create jobs that support local, coastal communities; and help ensure stronger, more resilient oceans. A 2009 Pew report found that rebuilt fish populations in the Mid-Atlantic will generate an additional $570 million per year in direct economic benefits. And amending federal law to weaken or delay rebuilding depleted fish populations would deny coastal communities these important benefits."
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