March 27, 2017 — It’s likely few people have written more about summer flounder than Mark Terceiro.
Terceiro has published a 44-page journal article about the science, politics and litigation surrounding the species from 1975 to 2000. A 32-page follow-up covered the period from 2001 to 2010, and another article regarding developments in recent years is in the works.
But it’s Terceiro’s summer flounder stock assessment update, released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in December, that has him in the crosshairs of New Jersey politicians and recreational fishing leaders.
That’s because his report led federal regulatory agencies to reduce this year’s summer flounder catch by 30 percent.
Some say the move will cripple recreational flounder fishing, a multimillion-dollar industry in New Jersey that supports bait-and-tackle shops, boat dealerships and other businesses that cater to fishermen.
“It is based on a questionable, out-of-date stock assessment and a flawed modeling,” Bob Martin, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, wrote in a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross last month.
But federal fisheries experts, including Terceiro, say they have confidence in the measurements, which show the flounder population has been “experiencing overfishing” since 2008.
“A stock assessment is one of our best ways to estimate the population and status of a resource we manage,” said Kirby Rootes-Murdy, senior fishery management plan coordinator for summer flounder at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, one of the agencies that regulate the species.