More fluke could be coming for Connecticut fishermen

Three members of the state’s Congressional delegation — U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, and Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy — have announced that the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council will be recommending changes to the management plan for summer flounder that will dramatically increase the quota for the state’s commercial fishermen.

Fishermen have been fighting for decades to obtain more fish under a system that they call unfair and skewed in favor of fishermen from the mid-Atlantic states.

Courtney, Blumenthal and Murphy had written a letter to MAFMC and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, urging the agencies to increase quotas for Connecticut fishermen.

"We believe that the MAFMC continues to shortchange New England states when it comes to commercial summer flounder quotas," the three lawmakers wrote. "New England fishermen — including many of our constituents who have spent their lives fishing in southern New England Waters — have consistently voiced their concerns regarding summer flounder quotas set by the MAFMC."

The current system had resulted in a situation in which New England fishermen and those from mid-Atlantic states could be fishing in the same federal waters but New England fishermen had to throw back fish because the state’s much smaller quota had been exhausted while Mid-Atlantic fishermen still could land many more fish.

Last week, the MAFMC and the ASMFC increased the annual coastwide commercial quota for summer flounder for 2019-21 to 11.53 million pounds. While states will continue to receive allocations based on their historic landings up to 9.55 million pounds, landings after that will be divided equally among mid-Atlantic and southern New England states.

For example, Connecticut will receive 12.375 percent of the additional 2 million pounds, the same as North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New York and New Jersey. Connecticut fishermen will be able to land 260,241 pounds in 2019 and 460,576 pounds in 2020-21, a 77 percent increase compared to the old system.

In 2018, Connecticut fishermen landed 149,644 pounds.

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