Skip to main content

The summer flounder chronicles III: struggling with success, 2011–2016

“For science, the age of innocence is over.”

Joseph Haberer (1972).

Abstract

The summer flounder or fluke, Paralichthys dentatus, supports the most important commercial and recreational flatfish fisheries of the U.S. Atlantic coast. The stock and fisheries range from Massachusetts to North Carolina. The assessment and management of the summer flounder has been contentious since 1989, when a joint Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission/Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Fishery Management Plan was implemented. Two previous papers recounted how fishing mortality on the summer flounder stock had decreased by 2010 to its lowest level in over 30 years, with stock biomass at its highest since the stock assessments began in the 1960s. Since 2010, the most important issues and controversies for summer flounder have included: (a) debate over the nature and causes of the observed changes in the spatial distribution of summer flounder and potential impacts for science and management, (b) the re-emergence of retrospective error in the assessment modeling results affecting the evaluation of stock status and the reliability of catch forecasts, (c) scientific and political debate over the necessity of including sex structure in the summer flounder assessment, and (d) the ongoing changes in the ‘tools’ used for catch regulation and allocation that attempt to effectively control fishing mortality while accounting for changes in spatial distribution. This work chronicles how summer flounder serves as a case study of the increasing ‘politicalization’ of fishery science and management, as the actions for summer flounder taken in response to the media commentary and ensuing political pressure have influenced U.S. national fisheries science, management strategy, and law.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  • ASMFC (2014) Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Addendum XXV to the summer flounder, scup, black sea bass fishery management plan: summer flounder and black sea bass recreational management in 2014. February 4, 2014. 18p

  • ASMFC (2015) Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Addendum XXVI to the summer flounder, scup, black sea bass fishery management plan: summer flounder recreational management in 2015. February 4, 2015. 13p

  • ASMFC (2016) Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Addendum XXVII to the summer flounder, scup, black sea bass fishery management plan: summer flounder and black sea bass recreational management in 2016. February 2, 2016. 21p

  • Bell RJ, Hare JA, Manderson JP, Richardson DE (2014) Externally driven changes in the abundance of summer and winter flounder. ICES J Mar Sci 71(9):2416–2428

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bell RJ, Richardson DE, Hare JA, Lynch PD, Fratantoni PS (2015) Disentangling the effects of climate, abundance, and size on the distribution of marine fish: an example based on four stocks from the Northeast US shelf. ICES J Mar Sci 72(5):1311–1322

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Borrell B (2017) The last trial of the Codfather. Hakai Magazine: Coastal Science and Societies. January 10, 2017. ISN 2371-5790 https://www.hakaimagazine.com/article-long/last-trial-codfather

  • Brooks EN, Legault CM (2015) Retrospective forecasting—evaluating performance of stock projections for New England groundfish stocks. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 73:935–950

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • CFN (2011) Fluke fiasco spotlights need for more science. Commercial Fisheries News Editorial December 2011. vol 39 No. 4. 48 p

  • CFN (2014) The NOAA fisheries navigator. Commercial Fisheries News Special Supplement November 2014

  • Congress.gov (2015) S.1107 Fluke Fairness Act of 2015. Sponsor Sen Schumer, Charles E (D-NY), introduced 04/28/2015. www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/1107 Accessed August 30, 2016

  • Cuomo AM (2013) Letter to Cameron Kerry, Acting Secretary, U.S. Department of Commerce, September 12, 2013

  • Cuomo AM (2014) Governor Cuomo announces approval of regional management of fluke fish. Governor’s Press Office, Albany, NY, February 4, 2014

  • Degener R (2015) Summer flounder harvests may be cut by 43 percent. Press of Atlantic City July 14, 2015

  • DOC (2015) US Department of Commerce: fisheries of the Northeastern United States; summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass fisheries; 2016–2018 Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Specifications. Federal Register Monday December 28, 2015 vol 80, no 248, pp 80689–80695

  • DOC (2016a) US Department of Commerce: Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Summer Flounder Fishery; 2017–2018 Summer Flounder Specifications. Federal Register Tuesday November 15, vol 81 no 220, pp 80038–80041

  • DOC (2016b) US Department of Commerce: Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; National Standard Guidelines. Federal Register Tuesday October 18, 2016 vol 81, no 201 pp 71858–71904

  • DOJ (2013) US Department of Justice: Long Island fisherman and fish dealer sentenced for wire fraud and falsifying records. Justice News November 22, 2013. US Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs

  • DOJ (2014a) US Department of Justice: Long Island fish dealer pleads guilty to fraud, falsifying federal records, and Lacey Act violations. Justice News July 16, 2014. US Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs

  • DOJ (2014b) US Department of Justice: Brooklyn fish dealer sentenced to four months for wire fraud. Justice News October 22, 2014. US Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs

  • DOJ (2015a) US Department of Justice: Long Island fisherman sentenced to prison time and pay more than $600,000 for fisheries fraud. Justice News October 29, 2015. US Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs

  • DOJ (2015b) US Department of Justice: Fulton Fish Market dealer and president plead guilty in Long Island to fraud, falsifying federal records, and Lacey Act violations. Justice News July 7, 2015. US Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs

  • DOJ (2016) US Department of Justice: Long Island fisherman pleads guilty to falsifying documents and lying to federal investigators. Justice News June 2, 2016. US Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs

  • Eldridge PJ (1962) Observations on the winter trawl fishery for summer flounder, Paralichthys dentatus. MS Thesis, College of William and Mary, Virginia Institute of Marine Science

  • Feeny RG, La Valley KJ, Hall-Arber M (2010) Assessing the stakeholder perspectives on the impacts of a decade of collaborative fisheries research in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank. Mar Coast Fish 2(1):205–216

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fote T (2017) Fighting the onerous fluke quota. Jersey Coast Anglers Association Newsletter, Fisheries Management & Legislative Report

  • Golofaro F (2014) Fluke management goes regional. The Fisherman Magazine vol 41 March 2014. February 27, 2014

  • Haberer J (1969) Politics and the community of science. Van Nostrand Rehinhold, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Haberer J (1972) Politicalization in science. Science 178(4062):713–724

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Harrington M (2014) Pols: new approach means ‘fluke fairness’ for Long Island anglers. Long Island Newsday February 4, 2014

  • Hurtado-Ferro F, Szuwalski CS, Valero JL, Anderson SC, Cunningham CJ, Johnson KF, Licandeo R, McGilliard CR, Monnahan CC, Muradian ML, Ono K, Vert-Pre KA, Whitten AR, Punt AE (2015) Looking in the rear-view mirror: bias and retrospective patterns in integrated, age-structured stock assessment models. ICES J Mar Sci 72(1):99–110

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hutchinson J Jr (2012) Fluke regs flounder on unreliable data. The Fisherman Vol. 39 Issue 01, January 5, 2012

  • Hutchinson J Jr (2014) Not many are pleased with new regulations. Asbury Park Press, February 13, 2014

  • Hutchinson J Jr (2016) The 2017 summer flounder vote is in! The Fisherman, December 2016

  • ICES (2002) Report of the Working Group in Methods of Fish Stock Assessments. ICES Headquarters, Copenhagen, Denmark, 3-7 December 2001. ICES CM 2002/D:01

  • JCAA (2014a) Jersey Coast Anglers Association Newspaper February 2014. January 20, 2014

  • JCAA (2014b) Jersey Coast Anglers Association Newspaper April 2014. March 17, 2014

  • Legault CM (2009) Report of the Retrospective Working Group, January 14-16, 2008, Woods Hole, Mass. Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document 09-01

  • MacArthur T, LoBiondo F, Smith C, Jones WB Jr. (2015) Letter to Richard B Robins, Chairman, and Christopher M Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. Congress of the United States Washington DC 20515, August 7, 2015

  • MacArthur T, LoBiondo F, Jones W Jr., Smith C, Pallone F, Zeldin L. (2016) Letter to Eileen Sobeck, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA Fisheries. Congress of the United States Washington DC 20515, September 30, 2016

  • MAFMC (1988) Fishery management plan for the summer flounder fishery. Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Dover DE

    Google Scholar 

  • MAFMC (1992) Amendment 2 to the fishery management plan for the summer flounder fishery. Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Dover DE

    Google Scholar 

  • MAFMC (2011) New report forces Council to reconsider summer flounder recommendations: 2012 stock size lower than previously estimated. Press Release 31 October 31 2011. Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Dover DE

  • MAFMC (2012) Report of July 2012 Meeting of the MAFMC Scientific and Statistical Committee. Memorandum from John Boreman, SSC Chair to Richard M. Robins, Jr., MAFMC Chairman 30 July 2012. Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Dover DE

  • MAFMC (2013) Report of the September 2013 Meeting of the MAFMC SSC. Memorandum from John Boreman, SSC Chair to Richard M. Robins, Jr., MAFMC Chairman 23 September 2013. Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Dover DE

  • MAFMC (2014) Report of the July 2014 Meeting of the MAFMC SSC. Memorandum from John Boreman, SSC Chair to Richard M. Robins, Jr., MAFMC Chairman. 30 July 2014. Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Dover DE

  • MAFMC (2015a) Description and foundation of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s Acceptable Biological Catch control rule September 11, 2015. Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Dover DE

    Google Scholar 

  • MAFMC (2015b) 2015 Summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass recreational specifications. Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Dover DE

    Google Scholar 

  • MAFMC (2015c) Report of the July 2015 Meeting of the MAFMC SSC. Memorandum from John Boreman, SSC Chair to Richard M. Robins, Jr., MAFMC Chairman. 27 July 2015. Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Dover DE

  • MAFMC (2016a) www.mafmc.org/research-set-aside/. Accessed 7 September 2016. Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Dover DE

  • MAFMC (2016b) Report of the July 2016 SSC meeting. Memorandum from John Boreman, SSC Chair to Richard M. Robins, Jr., MAFMC Chairman. 25 July 2016. Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Dover DE

  • MAFMC (2017) Report of the July 2017 SSC Meeting, Part 1: ABC Recommendations. Memorandum from John Boreman, SSC Chair to Michael Luisi, MAFMC Chairman. 21 July 2017. Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, Dover DE

  • Maunder MN (2011) Comments on summer flounder stock assessment and management. Quantitative resource Assessment LLC, San Diego, CA. December 2, 2011

  • Maunder MN (2012) Evaluating the stock-recruitment relationship and management reference points: application to summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) in the U.S. mid-Atlantic. Fish Res 125–126:20–26

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Maunder MN, Wong RA (2011) Approaches for estimating natural mortality: Application to summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) in the U.S. mid-Atlantic. Fish Res 111:92–99

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McKiernan K, Tomolonis M (2016) Fishing mogul Carlos Raphael arrested on federal conspiracy charges. South Coast Today, March 1, 2016

  • Mohn R (1999) The retrospective problem in sequential population analysis: an investigation using cod fishery and simulated data. ICES J Mar Sci 56:473–488

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Monti D (2014) Fishing report: fluke restrictions called a sad day for area anglers. The Providence Journal, February 12, 2014

  • Morson JM, Bochenek EA, Powell EN, Gius JE (2012) Sex at length of summer flounder landed in the New Jersey recreational party boat fishery. N Am J Fish Manage 32:1201–1210

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Morson JM, Bochenek EA, Powell EN, Robillard E, Hasbrouck EC, Gius JE, Gerbino K, Froehlich T, Hasbrouck EG (2013) Sex ratio and age at length of summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus) from recerational and commercial landings. SARC 57 Working Paper Haskins Shellfish Resarch Laboratory, Rutgers, The State Universityof New Jersey

  • Morson JM, Bochenek E, Powell EN, Hasbrouck EC, Gius JE, Cotton CF, Gerbino K, Froelich T (2015) Estimating the sex composition of summer flounder catch using fishery-independent data. Mar Coast Fish 7:393–408

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • MRIP (2017) The Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/recreational- fisheries/MRIP/index. Accessed 15 Sept 2017

  • MSA (2007) Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 2006. Public Law 109-479, 109th Congress, HR 5946, 12 Jan 2007

  • NEFSC (2008a) 47th Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Workshop (47th SAW) assessment report. Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document 08-12a

  • NEFSC (2008b) Assessment of 19 Northeast groundfish stocks through 2007: report of the 3rd Groundfish Assessment Review Meeting (GARM III). Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document 08-15

  • NEFSC (2013) 57th Northeast regional stock assessment workshop (57th SAW) Assessment Report. Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document 13-16

  • NEFSC (2015) Operational assessment of 20 Northeast groundfish stocks. Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document 15-24

  • NEFSC (2016) 61st Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Workshop (61st SAW) Assessment Report. Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document 17-05

  • NERO (2011). Stock status determination for summer flounder—decision memorandum. Northeast Regional Office memorandum from Patricia A. Kurkul NOAA Regional Administrator to Eric C. Schwab NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries. 28 Nov 2011

  • NRC (2006) Review of recreational fisheries survey methods. National Research Council. National Academy Press, Washington

    Google Scholar 

  • NRDC (2011). Comments on the 2012 specifications for summer flounder and scup. Letter to Richard Robins, Chairman, Mid-Atlantic Fishery management Council, Natural Resources Defense Council, 29 Nov 2011

  • Nye JA, Link JS, Hare JA, Overholtz WJ (2009) Changing spatial distribution of fish stocks in relation to climate and population size on the Northeast United States continental shelf. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 393:111–129

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • O’Brien L, Burnett J, Mayo RK (1993) Maturation of nineteen species of finfish off the northeast coast of the United States, 1985–1990. NOAA technical report NMFS 113

  • Oswald J (2013) NOAA takes a step back on fluke science. Asbury Park Press, 9 Aug 2013

  • Oswald J (2014) Legislators, RFA reject regional fluke measures. Asbury Park Press, 23 Jan 2014

  • Pallone F Jr, Booker CA (2016) Letter to Eileen Sobeck, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA Fisheries. Congress of the United States Washington DC 20515, 12 Dec 2016

  • Palmer MC (2017) Vessel trip reports catch-area reporting errors: potential impacts on the monitoring and management of the northeast United States groundfish resource. Northeast Fisheries Science Center Reference Document 17-02

  • Pierce DE (2014) Memorandum to the Summer Flounder/Scup/Black Sea Bass Management Board & Technical Committee. 12 Feb 2014

  • Pierce DE (2016) Letter to Mr. John Bullard GARFO Regional Administrator, Mr. Douglas Grout ASMFC Chairman, Mr. Michael Luisi MAFMC Chairman. 19 Aug 2016

  • Pinsky ML, Fogarty MJ (2012) Lagged social-ecological responses to climate and range shifts in fisheries. Clim Change 115:883–891

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Radel D (2016) New summer flounder model supports slot fish. Asbury Park Press, 9 Dec 2016

  • Rivard D, Foy MG (1987) An analysis of errors in catch projections for Canadian Atlantic groundfish stocks. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 44(5):967–981

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sinclair A, Gascon D, Rivard D, Gavaris S (1991) Consistency of some northwest Atlantic groundfish stock assessments. NAFO Sci Counc Stud 16:59–77

    Google Scholar 

  • Terceiro M (2001) The summer flounder chronicles: science, politics, and litigation, 1975–2000. Rev Fish Biol Fish 11:125–168

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Terceiro M (2011a) The summer flounder chronicles II: new science, new controversy, 2001–2010. Rev Fish Biol Fish 21:681–712

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Terceiro M (2011b) Stock assessment of summer flounder for 2011. US Dept Commer, Northeast Fish Sci Cent Ref Doc 11-20

  • Terceiro M (2012) Stock assessment of summer flounder for 2011. US Dept Commer, Northeast Fish Sci Cent Ref Doc 12-21

  • Terceiro M (2015) Stock assessment of summer flounder for 2015. US Dept Commer, Northeast Fish Sci Cent Ref Doc 15-13

  • Terceiro M (2016) Stock assessment of summer flounder for 2016. US Dept Commer, Northeast Fish Sci Cent Ref Doc 16-15

  • USDC (2010) US District Court: The State of New York, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Plaintiffs, and United Boatmen of New York, Inc., against The United States Department of Commerce, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, Defendants. Civil Action #08-CV-2503. Opinion and Order. US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, June 30, 2010

  • Van Voorhees DA, Witzig JF, Osborn MF, Holliday MC, Essig RJ (1992) Marine Recreational fishery statistics survey, Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, 1990–1991. National Marine Fisheries Service. US Department of Commerce Current Fisheries Statistics Number 9204

  • Walsh C (2016) Fishermen assail NOAA’s quotas. The East Hampton Star, 29 Dec 2016

  • Walsh HJ, Richardson DE, Marancik KE, Hare JA (2015) Long-term changes in the distributions of larval and adult fish in the Northeast U.S. shelf ecosystem. PLoS One 10(9):e0137382. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0137382

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Wilberg MJ, Miller TJ, Wiedenmann J (2011) Evaluation of acceptable biological catch (ABC) rules for Mid-Atlantic stocks, final report to Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council August 31st, 2011. Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, Unversity of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Ref. No. [UMCES]CBL 11-029

  • Wilk SJ, Smith WG, Ralph WE, Sibunka J (1980) Population structure of summer flounder between New York and Florida based on linear discriminant analysis. Trans Am Fish Soc 109(3):265–271

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Witek C (2015) Summer flounder show that Magnuson Act is already “flexible.” One Angler’s Voyage July 2015 #6 https://oneanglersvoyage.blogspot.com/. Accessed July 30

  • Witek C (2016) When politicians engage in fisheries management. One Angler’s Voyage November 2016 #8 https://oneanglersvoyage.blogspot.com/. Accessed Nov 18

Download references

Acknowledgements

I thank Fred Serchuk for his always sharp humor, helpful writing tips, and insightful reviews of all three summer flounder ‘Chronicles,’ and Gary Shepherd, Michael Simpkins, the journal editor, and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable reviews that helped broaden the focus of this paper.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mark Terceiro.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Terceiro, M. The summer flounder chronicles III: struggling with success, 2011–2016. Rev Fish Biol Fisheries 28, 381–404 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11160-017-9506-x

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11160-017-9506-x

Keywords

  • Assessment
  • Fisheries
  • Lawsuits
  • Management
  • Politics
  • Summer flounder