Scup and summer flounder regulations on the cutting block


The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council has asked coastal states for their thoughts on what scup and summer flounder (fluke) management measures they would propose for 2024 to meet mandated reductions in recreational fishing harvest limits. The Council in cooperation with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has one Fisheries Management Plan for Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass coast wide including Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Fortunately, black sea bass will not take a reduction next year, while scup requires a 10 percent reduction and summer flounder a 28 percent reduction.

Last week Rhode Island recreational fishing leaders were asked their thoughts on the types of changes to the bag limit, minimum size, or season dates they recommend to achieve the needed reductions for each species. The deadline for states to provide the Council with thoughts on what their state’s regulations might be to achieve reductions is Jan. 19. This early date does not dove tail with the state’s public process. For example in Rhode Island the public comment process on recreational fishing regulations does not normally start until February.

In Rhode Island, increasing the minimum size of summer flounder from 18”to 18.5 inches would represent an 18 percent reduction, with 10 percent left. Ideas floated by both private anglers and the for hire industry to make up the 10 percent included a delayed season and reduced bag limit. For example an 18.5-inch minimum size with a season start moving from May 3 to June 3, missing May 27 which is Memorial Day weekend, with the season ending August 31, with a reduction bag limit from four fish to three fish would meet required reductions. Oddly enough, reducing the bag limit from four fish to three fish only garners a two percent reduction.

So, more than likely, the proposed minimum size for summer flounder will be increased to either 18.5 or 19 inches with a possible season reduction, and bag limit reduction in 2024. We will have to wait to see what states submit for proposals on Jan. 19 and what the Council, Commission and committee ultimately approve for Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

In regard to scup, Capt. Rick Bellavance, president of the RI Party & Charter Boat Association and vice chair of the New England Fishery Management Council provided and easy to understand solution to achieve the 10 percent harvest limit reduction for this species in Rhode Island.

Capt. Bellavance said, “My first thoughts for scup would be a size increase of ½ inch across all modes. Looking at the catch, the shore mode is significant. Although I strongly support measures to help the shore fisher, I think a ½ inch across all modes will be easier than trying to configure the 10 percent cut in the for hire and private modes.”  Final proposals on scup on how to meet the required 10 percent reduction are being considered for the January 19 deadline as well.

So we will have to wait until January 19 to see how both Massachusetts and Rhode Island suggest they meet mandated reduction for scup and summer flounder.  The Council and its Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Board will then review and rule on what the states submit.

New England Boat Show this weekend

The New England Boat Show is this week, Jan. 10 to Jan. 14 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Boston, MA.

Check out the shows website at New England Boat Show Official Site | Boston, MA to use their ‘Boat Finder’ software which filters vessels by boat type, length, price range and more.  Also see the complete list of events and get a $2 discount on tickets when you purchase online.

Where’s the bite?

Freshwater fishing in stocked ponds for trout continues to be very good with a decent largemouth bass bite. For a complete list of trout stocked ponds in Massachusetts visit Mass Wildlife at Trout stocking report |  and in Rhode Island visit, or call 401-789-0281 or 401-539-0019 for more information on trout stocking.

Saltwater. The tautog and black sea bass seasons closed Dec. 31. Anglers have now turned their attention to cod fishing, striped bass fishing in hold over areas with many switching off to freshwater fishing. If you want to try your hand at cod fishing call ahead to make a party boat reservation, vessels generally sail between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. and return in the afternoon. Visit and Full day rates for vessels are generally $130 to $135 per adult and around $80 for those under 12 years old.

Dave Monti holds a captain’s license and charter fishing license. He serves on a variety of boards and commissions and has a consulting business focusing on clean oceans, habitat preservation, conservation, renewable energy, and fisheries related issues and clients. Forward fishing news and photos to or visit

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