Discards and Fishery Dynamics Data to Inform Raritan Bay Recreational Summer Flounder Fishery Management Policy

News | Raritan River Initiatives

Summer flounder (Paralichtys dentatus) is a key species for New Jersey’s fisheries, including being the most commonly captured species by recreational anglers and the most valuable finfish species for the commercial fishing industry (NMFS, 2017). Increasingly strict fisheries management measures have been implemented in recent years partially due to the results from the most recent stock assessment which indicated that the summer flounder stock is experiencing declines in spawning stock biomass, low recruitment, and overfishing (Terceiro, 2016). These management measures lead to a great deal of discarding when fishes don’t meet the criteria for harvest (e.g., too small, out-of-season) or due to personal conservation ethics of the anglers. In fact, it is estimated that 5-10 million summer flounder are discarded annually by New Jersey’s anglers (HMFS, 2017). Fisheries management plans and stock assessments currently assume a 10% discard mortality rate for summer flounder that are caught and released by recreational anglers (Terceiro, 2016). Therefore, an online survey of anglers who target summer flounder was conducted during the summer of 2018 to describe the fishing practices of anglers targeting summer flounder. A total of 339 anglers who target summer flounder in Raritan Bay, or other regions in New Jersey, completed the survey.

The research completed as a part of the Rutgers Raritan River Consortium minigrant program provided valuable information about the fishing practices of recreational anglers targeting summer flounder and insights into fishery dynamics in Raritan Bay and other regions of New Jersey, which will help to inform fishery management decision-making focused on this key species for New Jersey’s recreational and commercial fishing industries. Furthermore, the activities as a part of this project also served as great educational experiences for an undergraduate researcher and all of the fishing industry stakeholders who were involved and educated on these issues impacting the sustainability and management of New Jersey’s summer flounder fisheries. Therefore, this project has utilized the fisheries of Raritan Bay to inform university-based research and education, and brought together a diversity of scientists and stakeholders to provide data needed to inform fishery management decision-making to positively impact the sustainability of our marine fisheries.

See the full study report including references here.

Doug Zemeckis presented his research at the November 8, 2018 Rutgers Raritan River Consortium research breakfast.  You can view his presentation here.

View the poster prepared by Massimo (Max) DiSanto for the American Fisheries Society Annual Meeting in August, 2018.

For more information, contact: Dr. Douglas Zemeckis at zemeckis@njaes.rutgers.edu or (732) 349-1152.