DOVER – Effective April 1, Delaware’s recreational minimum size limit for summer flounder will increase to 17 inches. DNREC Secretary David S. Small signed an Emergency Secretary’s Order to increase Delaware’s minimum size limit regulation by one inch to remain compliant with an addendum to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP). Delaware’s flounder four-fish possession limit and year-round open season remain unchanged.
Recreational harvest reductions also were required in other coastal states. The decision was made after consulting with Delaware’s ASMFC regional neighbors Maryland and Virginia, both of which also have committed to adopting a 17-inch minimum size limit and a four-fish possession limit by April 1.
An emergency regulation was necessary to meet the implementation target date, remain compliant with the FMP and to protect the summer flounder resource from overfishing. In addition, such action will allow sufficient time for Delaware’s fishing community to plan for this important fishery.
Harvest reductions were based on recent stock assessment updates that determined the summer flounder population is experiencing excess harvest that could result in a detrimental population reduction. Although spawning stock biomass is above the target threshold, juvenile production has been below average for the past six years.
Harvest reductions were necessary in the coastwide commercial fishery as well, but these reductions are achieved through quotas and monitoring.