DMF is proposing to increase the commercial summer flounder trip limit for the 2022 Period I fishery (January 1–April 22) from 1,000 pounds to 2,500 pounds in response to an anticipated quota increase. For 2022, Massachusetts’ summer flounder commercial quota is expected to be set at approximately 1.39 million pounds, an increase of 37% from 2021. This elevated quota level reflects a 24% increase in the coastwide quota in response to the most recent stock assessment results, as well as an increased state quota share for Massachusetts under the new allocation approach implemented in 2021 that is intended to provide more equitable access to the resource when at higher levels.
Massachusetts’ Period I commercial summer flounder fishery is allocated 30% of the state’s annual quota. Since a regulatory change in 2020, this sub-quota has been managed with a 1,000-pound trip limit; however, it may be adjusted annually through the declaration process in response to the latest conditions. In 2021, due to a 29% quota increase, DMF increased the Period I trip limit from 1,000 pounds to 2,000 pounds and the Period I fishery landed 85% of its roughly 304,000-pound quota allocation. With the additional anticipated quota increase for 2022, the Period I fishery will have a quota allocation of about 417,000 pounds. Accordingly, DMF is proposing to increase the 2022 Period I summer flounder trip limit from 1,000 pounds to 2,500 pounds to help ensure the available quota is taken.
The Period I fishery principally occurs in federal waters. The proposed trip limit is anticipated to encourage Massachusetts’ permit holders fishing offshore to land their catch in Massachusetts ports. Moreover, it should better align the landing limit to the overhead associated with having to steam to offshore fishing grounds, allowing for greater quota utilization and the promotion of local seafood.
DMF is accepting public comment on this proposed adjustment through 5PM on Friday, November 26, 2021. Written comments may be submitted to Director Daniel McKiernan by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to 251 Causeway Street, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02114. The Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission will consider adopting this trip limit increase at its December 2, 2021 business meeting. If approved by the Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission, the adjusted 2022 trip limit will be implemented through the issuance of temporary permit conditions.