The last assessment for Gulf of Maine winter flounder was an index-based assessment reviewed at SARC 21 (NEFSC 1996). Low indices and the absence of large fish in the survey led SARC 21 to conclude that the stock was overexploited in the mid 1990s. The ASMFC Winter Flounder Technical Committee has constructed a benchmark virtual population analysis (VPA) in September 2002 which will be reviewed at SARC 36 (December 2002). Since this is a new benchmark assessment, full VPA output is not included here, but will be available in draft form to the council. 2.0 Fishery Commercial landings were near 1,000 mt from 1964 to the mid 1970s. Thereafter commercial landings increased to a peak of 2,793 mt in 1982, and then steadily declined to a record low of 253 mt in 1999. Landings have remained near 500 mt since 1999 (Table T1, Figure T1). Otter trawl was the primary gear used during 1964-1985 (>95 % of the landings). Since 1985 the proportion of landings coming from gill nets has increased, and has averaged 25 % since1990. Recreational landings reached a peak in 1981 ( 2,554 mt) but declined substantially thereafte
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