Pallone, LoBiondo seek to roadblock summer flounder quota cuts
Prospective slashes in summer flounder catch limits sought by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would be delayed pending new analyses, under federal legislation being crafted by a Democrat and a Republican from the Jersey Shore
Representatives Frank Pallone (D-6) and Frank LoBiondo (R-2) said they'll introduce a bill that would maintain the 2016 fluke quotas while NOAA conducts new assessments.
The Congressmen said that under NOAA quotas, the Acceptable Biological Catch would be reduced 29 percent this year and 16 percent in 2018. Recreational and commercial limits, they said, were reduced by about 30 percent this year and 16 percent in 2018.
The quotas for commercial and recreational purposes are designed to prevent over-fishing of the species and to contribute to environmental balance. However, Pallone said, the cuts applying to New Jersey are larger than those for the region.
"These cuts are a body blow to the recreational fishing industry in New Jersey and that is why Congress needs to take action," Pallone said. "The recreational fishing industry contributes over $1 billion to our state's economy and directly supports 20,000 jobs."
Calling the reductions "draconian," LoBiondo pointed out that nothing in the regulations would prevent neighboring states with more favorable limits from entering New Jersey waters, and questioned the calculations, which Pallone has done repeatedly.
"The use of questionable methodologies and outdated science by NOAA bureaucrats will cut our fishing industry off at the knees," LoBiondo said. "This bipartisan legislation is the next effort in our fight against these severely flawed quotas."
Pallone and LoBiondo were among a contingent of New Jersey federal lawmakers who last month appealed to U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker to place the quota proposals on hold.
Pallone and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) also petitioned NOAA to postpone its decisions until completing new benchmark summer flounder assessments.