The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Marine Fisheries Program will get public input on proposed 2018 management measures for several saltwater species Monday, March 5.
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the DEEP Marine Headquarters at 333 Ferry Road in Old Lyme, in the rear building at the complex.
The measures being considered are to comply with the joint Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) fishery management plans for summer flounder, black sea bass and scup, and the ASMFC plan for tautog.
In response to a 2016 stock assessment that, in part, indicated the tautog stock in Long Island Sound was overfished and that overfishing was occurring, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission prescribed a 47.2% reduction in harvest, but a proposal by Connecticut and New York to implement a compromise harvest reduction of 20.3% was adopted by the board.
In the recreational fishery, the measures approved included reducing the possession limit from four fish to three fish in the fall season and shortening the fall season from 58 days to 50 days. The minimum size will remain at 16 inches.
The DEEP is looking for input on the opening and closing days of the revised 50-day fall season and on approaches for making the same 20.3% harvest reduction in the commercial fishery.
In December 2017, the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board approved the continuation of its 2018 mandate and specified that states could propose recreational measures to liberalize harvest up to 17% above what was previously projected for 2017. This was due to data that indicated the projected 2017 recreational harvest would be less than the established 2018 recreational harvest limit. The board approved four options proposed by Connecticut and New York that include one of the following: a one-fish increase in the bag limit, an increase in the season length or a half-inch reduction in the minimum size.
In response to information indicating the 2017 projected recreational scup harvest will be substantially less than the 2018 recreational harvest limit, the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board considered and approved a proposal by the northern region of Massachusetts through New York to adjust the 2018 recreational management measures. The proposal provided for a reduction in the minimum size from 10 inches to 9 inches. It also provided for a reduction in minimum size from 9 inches to 8 inches at the Connecticut and Rhode Island Enhanced Shore fishing sites.
Black sea bass
At the February Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board meeting, the board approved an addendum to the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan. Using a combination of exploitable biomass distribution and historical harvest, the addendum established recreational harvest allocations for three regions: Massachusetts through New York, New Jersey as a stand-alone region, and Delaware through North Carolina. The respective allocations are 61.35%, 30.24% and 8.41% of the recreational harvest limit. Although the northern region has the highest allocation, the region will be required to craft management measures to reduce harvest for 2018. While the exact management measure details are still being developed, for Connecticut this will mean a significant reduction in season length, and consideration of a split season.