If you love flounder, you need to read this
If you love flounder, pay attention to the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission meetings May 25 and 26.
The commission is scheduled to consider final approval for Amendment 3 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan that would chip away at the amount of Southern flounder commercial fishers may catch even through data shows commercial fishers are more successful at staying within catch limits.
UPDATE: Flounder catch reductions are approved
Restrictions on the total amount of Southern flounder that may be caught in North Carolina waters is divided between commercial and recreational fishers.
Commercial fishers provide the seafood you purchase at the market.
The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries in 2019 determined that Southern flounder was overfished and overfishing was continuing. As a result, fishery managers put a quota on the number of pounds of Southern flounder that commercial and recreational fishers may catch overall each year. The poundage for each group is known as an “allocation.” The goal is to maintain a sustainable fishery.
Through 2024, commercial fishers may harvest 70 percent of the overall annual quota. The remaining 30% goes to recreational fishers. Under the proposed Amendment 3, commercial fishers would be limited to 60% of the catch in 2025 and 50% in 2026.
That would mean less flounder and likely higher prices for you at the market.
The draft Amendment 3 punishes seafood consumers and commercial fishers even though data shows recreational catches have exceeded allocation limits at much higher rate than commercial catches.
In both 2020 and 2021, the recreational allocation was 152,808 pounds, but anglers took 456,636 pounds of Southern flounder in 2020 and 689,900 pounds in 2021.
The commercial allocation for 2020 and 2021 was 391,726. Commercial fishers exceeded that allocation by 92,869 pounds in 2020 and 88,328 pounds in 2021.
Southern flounders are the most commonly caught flounders of three types of flounder in North Carolina. They are found mainly in North Carolina’s 2.2 million acres of estuarine waters including Pamlico, Core and Masonboro Sounds.
Another species, summer flounder, are caught in higher quantities, but are mainly caught in northern waters and brought back to North Carolina. They hang around inlets, in the ocean and in estuarine waters. Gulf flounders, the least common in North Carolina, are usually in ocean waters.
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