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Even as fishermen were testifying at Thursday evening's Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Public Hearing in the Galloway Township Library, congressmen were providing support for maintaining status quo fluke regulations until a new baseline summer flounder baseline assessment is completed. Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) and a bipartisan group from the New Jersey Congressional delegation sent a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker asking her to prevent rulemaking that would reduce the summer flounder quotas for recreational and commercial fishing from going into effect. The letter asks the Secretary to direct NOAA Fisheries to reexamine its methodologies and conduct a new benchmark summer flounder assessment before making any decision to reduce summer flounder quotas. Under the rule, the summer flounder Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) would be reduced 29% in 2017 and 16% in 2018. The recreational and commercial limits would both be reduced by approximately 30% in 2017 and 16% in 2018. Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker and Congressmen Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) and Tom MacArthur (NJ-03), joined Pallone in the letter. The options presented by the ASMFC would all be an economic disaster for the N.J. fluke fishery, and many experts believe they are not necessary for a fishery which appears to be in relatively good condition. The goals set for full recovery were established on questionable data from long before there was management of the fishery -- and may never be attainable. The ASMFC set up inequitable distribution of the resource right from the beginning, forcing the public to release great numbers of edible-size fluke which can then be netted by commercial fishermen who get 60 percent of the fishery and only have a 14-inch minimum.Those recreational fishermen then have to buy back the fluke they've released while trying to find a legal 18-incher. As if that hasn't been bad enough, the proposed regulations will push the recreational minimum to 19 inches unless the season is reduced to only a few weeks. Check my daily blog at nj.com/shore/blogs/fishing this week for additional information. The Garden State Outdoor Sports Show runs from Jan. 12-15 in the N.J. Convention and Expo Center at Edison. Blackfishing remains a best bet for winter fishing when conditions are decent. The Big Mohawk from Belmar reported a good Thursday tog catch. The Mimi VI from Point Pleasant Beach has an unusual blackfishing opportunity as the Sunday charter has up to eight spots available at $100 which includes food, tip and even whitelegger crabs. Call Capt. Kenny Namowitz at 732 370-8019. He'll be sailing open every day except the 14th this month. Grumpy's Tackle in Seaside Park reports there are still some small stripers being being caught in the surf on small plugs and teasers. I've often caught small bass right through January in mild winters such as we've been experiencing. However, there's been no repeat of the early January blitz of large stripers that occurred last year.  The Salt Water Anglers of Bergen County will have Kevin Morgan speaking on fish tagging at the 8 p.m. Jan. 17 meeting in American Legion Post 170, 33 West Passaic St., Rochelle Park. Call Chuck Santoro at 201 446-9047 for information about that very active club.

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