Fluke, scup regs expected to remain unchanged

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Michael French of New York City holds a nice fluke caught Sunday in Vineyard Sound. — Photo by Nelson Sigelman

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) last week issued an advisory with respect to anticipated regulatory changes for three popular recreational species: fluke, scup, and black sea bass.

DMF said it was issuing the advisory because it recognizes that rule changes are often not finalized until the spring, and “this delayed management process can impact business and travel plans being made by for-hire fishing businesses and private anglers.”

DMF said the recreational management of fluke, scup, and black sea bass is subject to a joint federal/interstate process that relies on annual harvest estimates to establish the following year’s regulations: “For example, the coastwide recreational harvest estimate for 2015 is compared to the 2016 coastwide harvest limit — as established through the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council — to determine if any increase or decrease in harvest is warranted for 2016; the states then develop and implement regulations to achieve the increase or decrease in harvest, subject to Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission approval.”

DMF said Massachusetts is expected to remain its own region and be allowed to maintain its current fluke measures: 5-fish daily limit, 16-inch minimum size, and May 22–Sept. 23 open season.

Scup regulations are expected to be: 30-fish daily limit, 10-inch minimum size, and May 1–Dec. 31 open season, except that the possession limit aboard for-hire fishing vessels during May 1–June 30 is 45 fish.

Rules for black sea bass are subject to action by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which could include potential changes to the opening date, closing date, and possession limit to achieve a reduction in harvest.