The NC Marine Fisheries Commission seems to be leaning towards implementing new commercial and recreational flounder restrictions that would keep anglers and commercial watermen from keeping their catch of this popular flatfish before the end of this summer.
The Fisheries Commission is expected to implement commercial and recreational flounder restrictions that would prevent anglers and commercial watermen from keeping the popular flatfish before the end of this summer.
Last June the commission approved, in a 5-4 vote, recommendations made by the Division of Marine Fisheries in their entirety as its preferred management options for Draft Amendment 2 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan that they said will help save a rapidly declining fishery.
As soon as the nine member commission (appointed by the governor) votes at their meeting in later this month (August 21 – 23) in Raleigh, recreational fishing for flounder in North Carolina would be shutdown for the remainder of the year and continue to remain closed through the late summer of 2020.
Currently the minimum length to keep a flounder is 15 inches for both recreational and commercial fishing.
Commercial fisherman will be given an approximately 4 – 8 week window to allow them to catch flounder between mid-September and the beginning of November, depending on where they set their nets.
In 2020, the season for both recreational and commercial fishing for flounder would reopen in mid-August. The recreational season would last through the end of September, while commercial fishermen would once again have their season set geographically.
The proposal is designed to create a 62% reduction in southern flounder harvest, compared to 2017 data, and a 72% reduction in harvest beginning in 2020.
The plan, which was developed by the staff of the NC Division of Marine Fisheries, also proposes yardage and time restrictions for gill nets and prohibiting the use of puncturing devices, such as gigs and gaffs, in the pound net fishery.Marine Fisheries Commission likely to shut down flounder fishing this August
The commission is scheduled to vote on final approval of the draft amendment and its management measures at its August meeting to be held in Raleigh.
If it is approved, these new management measures would be immediately effective, and will remain until the adoption and implementation of Amendment 3 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan, which is planned to be completed in 2021.
Southern flounder is one of three main species of flounder landed on the North Carolina coast, along with summer flounder and Gulf flounder.
The reductions in harvest are required because a 2019 South Atlantic Southern Flounder Stock Assessment states that the southern flounder population is too small and the harvest rate is too high from North Carolina to the eastern coast of Florida.
North Carolina law mandates that fishery management plans include measures to end overfishing within two years of adoption and rebuild the stock to achieve sustainable harvest within 10 years of adoption of a fishery management plan.