A dramatic collapse in the reproduction of summer flounder off the East Coast may mean a sharp cut in the catch quota for both commercial and recreational fishermen next summer, according to a science committee on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
Summer flounder, also known as fluke, have been staging a comeback over the past two decades or so with the help of both scientists and fishermen who covet the tasty fish.
But a 43-percent cut in the quota has been proposed for a late July meeting of the council, when a decision is expected at that time.
That would reduce this year's quota of roughly 22 million pounds to just 12 million pounds next year.
The MAFMC is one of the eight regional fishery management councils across the U.S. created under federal law in 1976, and creates a system of regional fisheries management to allow local groups and agencies to make decisions on local fishery management.
"The industry can't take shocks like this," said Tom Fote of the New Jersey Coast Anglers Association.
Fote said the only way to live within such a quota cut is to shorten the current May to September season, and increase the minimum catch size.
The scientific committee made no specific recommendation on either of those.
It did say, however, that the quota on 2017 and 2018 could be gradually increased, though not to this summer's level.