The summer flounder fishery has been rebuilt, a report out Monday from the federal government said.
The fish species, commonly known as fluke, is arguably New Jersey's most important sport fish, and is also one of the state's most important commercial finfish species. Summer flounder joins six other species – none of which are common to New Jersey waters – that were declared rebuilt this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's annual Status of U.S. Fisheries report.
A species is considered rebuilt when its stock level meets a federal target that is considered by scientists and policymakers to be considered healthy and self-sustaining.
The summer flounder rebuilding effort is important to New Jersey anglers since the deadline for the species to meet its target was set for next year. If the target was not met by then, anglers would have been subject to more restrictive fishing regulations, up to and including a closure of the fishery.
Operators of fishing-related businesses feared that a closure of the fishery could have led to millions of dollars in lost sales on bait and tackle items, boats and accessories, as well as fishing charter trips.
"With annual catch limits in place this year for all domestic fish populations and the continued commitment of fishermen to rebuild the stocks they rely on, we're making even greater progress in ending overfishing and rebuilding stocks around the nation," said Samuel Rauch, acting assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries, in a statement.