The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has partnered with the Atlantic Coast Chapter of the Maryland Saltwater Sportsmen's Association (MSSA) to conduct a survey to assess the recreational flounder catch rate. As of July 1, MSSA members have been on the water to distribute the survey cards to anglers in Maryland's Coastal Bays as part of the innovative program.
"This cooperative effort between MSSA and DNR is designed to test the assumptions made by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in their estimates of the overall catch of summer flounder," said Linda Barker, Ph.D, the DNR lead research statistician on the project. "This is a unique partnership that could lead to better estimates of angler impact and better summer flounder management."
NMFS interviews anglers at public launch sites as they return from their trips in order to obtain catch rate information. However, the anglers that return to private docks, ramps and marinas are not interviewed. The aim of this new survey is to explore the results of information from anglers who leave and return from private locations.
DNR and the MSSA volunteers are collecting private and public access summer flounder catch rates during July and August. The survey will cover "Flounder Alley," a popular flounder fishing area in the Isle of Wight and Sinepuxent Bays. DNR will then compare that information against the official NMFS survey estimate.
Area anglers can participate in this simple survey by filling out and returning the self-addressed, postage-paid survey cards distributed by volunteers.
"Considering the generosity of the MSSA members who have come forward to support this project and the potential for improving fish management, we are asking our coastal flounder anglers to lend a hand," said Barker.