Marine Fisheries Commission likely to shut down flounder fishing this August

Southern flounder are one of three species of the flat fish caught in N.C. waters. [ image]

The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission is moving toward implementing commercial and recreational flounder restrictions that would prevent anglers and commercial watermen from keeping the popular flatfish before the end of this summer.

The commission last week approved on a 5-4 vote to accept 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 say will help save a rapidly declining fishery.

As soon as the nine member commission that is appointed by the governor votes at a meeting in late August in Raleigh, recreational fishing for flounder in North Carolina would be shutdown for the rest of the year and remain closed until late summer of 2020.

The minimum length to keep a flounder is 15 inches for both recreational and commercial fishing.

Commercial fisherman will get a roughly four to eight week window 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 until the end of September, while commercial fishermen would again have their season set geographically.

The proposal is designed to create a 62 percent reduction in southern flounder harvest, compared to 2017 data, and a 72 percent reduction in harvest beginning in 2020.

The plan, developed by the staff of the N.C. 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.

The commission is scheduled to vote on final approval of the draft amendment and its management measures at its Aug. 21-23 meeting in Raleigh.

If approved, the management measures would become effective immediately, and remain until adoption and implementation of Amendment 3 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan, scheduled for completion 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.

Reductions in harvest are required because a 2019 South Atlantic Southern Flounder Stock Assessment says southern flounder population is too small and the removal 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.

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  1. Delay harvest, compress entire years effort into a five week period, and continuation of a 15″ harvest window designed to take every female fish with any potential to spawn? This is about creating a spectical and show. Those left fishing will be tripping over each other, user conflict will be thru the roof. No possible way to improve SSB with the prescribed harvest proposal targeting the very portion of the stock needing improvement, spawning females.

  2. I totally agree with these seoson should be closed longer than that. People are taking way too many of these fish it’s really messing things up for the advarrage fisherman.

  3. Sad thing is South Carolina has a 10 per person limit and 20 per boat and we have more fishable water’s than they do. What are they doing that we aren’t? They have both commercial and recreational fisherman. Maybe we need to look at them for answers. Our leaders can’t seem to fix any problems

    • Head down to the beach. Relax and enjoy the ocean and pretty women walking by. Then notice the trawlers pulling nets for shrimp go by. Five to six in a line. Those drag nets capturing shrimp also catch flounder, baby flounder. They call it “by-catch”. The haul is went through as the nets pulled in before they dock and tossed overboard for the crabs. They drag twice daily. The drag nets do more “harvesting” that the weekend fisherman does. I used to gig flounder. Same area all the time due to ocean access. I rarely saw baby flounder in the shallow waters. Large flounder about every 200ft apart. They get in through the mouths of the inlets. They only swim like 20ft at a time and lay at each spot ready to ambush for a few hours before moving again. But seriously think about the drag netting and how a small diameter net to catch tiny shrimp how many flounder and other fish is killed in it. They should stop or alternate every other week drag netting for a few months. I know it pays bills but it also kills

      • The amount of small flounder caught by commercial shrimpers is minuscule compared to what is poached by recreational fishermen. If you want the answer to the flounder problem in NC you will need to solve the global warming issue. These fish follow water temperatures and the biomass has shifted to New Yor

        • You are an idiot, there is no global warming issue. Also please explain how commercial fishing is minuscule to recreational fishing. Take your hippie ideology somewhere else, recreational sportsman provide billions of dollars yearly to wildlife management, programs, research, etc….The main reason for most gamefish numbers to dwindle is caused by commercial fishing due to accidental targeting. Commercial fishing should be better regulated not the recreational sportsman adding value to conservation!

  4. Sad Thing Is You’re Punishing Anglers For The Problems That The Commercial Fishermen Are Doing… You Put Tough Creel Size Limits On A Man Or Woman With A Fishing Rod And You Let Commercial Boats And Giggers Have There Ways🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️

    • Stop the netting, inside and out!! Theres your problem. All shrimp boats. 1 lb shrimp = 6 lbs bycatch, flounder, trout, drum. Drop the nets!!!!

      • You need to do some more research there professor ,I did research for the state and never saw the masses of bycatch you are talking,as far as raping the creeks and rivers most have been closed for a long time and are now useless as far as productivity is concerned and suffocating from not being tilled just like farmland. work in a fisherman’s boots sometimes and you will understand

        • The by-catch is tossed overboard as the net is brought in and cleaned for use next time. Hop a trawler and work it for a few days. Different ones. Please don’t rely on word of mouth or questionnaires to help the study. Actually do several trawlers and keep and wiegh the by-catch just for shitz n giggles. On site and firsthand.

      • Limit bycatch further & set limits to 1: 16 in fish per recreational fisherman per day. Allow bycatch be sold at wholesale & enforce commercial poundage time & % per season regulated catches.

    • So true .and it’s not right for the everyday fisherman .I pay my taxes jest like the next man.and God have me that water to use as much as he did the next man.

    • I know for fact that there is so many people that gig flounder every night to the week weather permitting. They gig thousands of pounds a week. Some have commercial license so they gig way more than the average fisherman. I agree the net boats also kill lots of small ones. We do not have enough wildlife officials to keep this under control.

  5. I think you need to tighten up on the commercial fishing more than the recreational Fishermen and probably up the size to 18″ .

  6. I’ve been fishing on many of NC waters for years and I see we’re one of the only states that still allow GILL NETS in our waters I see a lot of fish that are caught in these nets are juveniles and most don’t meet the regulated requirements. I’ve seen a lot of dead fish floating in the water after these nets are collected. THIS HAS GOT TO STOP!!

  7. I believe those that voted for this closure should be investigated thoughly for ties to the imported seafood industry that is taking over. Family members and associates included!!

  8. I am a commerical fisherman,sport fisherman, and recreational fishermen the real problem is the people making the laws haven’t got a clue and recreational fishermen complaining they can’t catch flounder probably need help wiping their own a## I have seen some of the best fishing the last couple of years but then again I am a fisherman not a paper pusher that just sits behind a desk.

  9. Fl passed a constitutional amendment back in the 90s outlawing gill nets. The result was the return of mullet and all other species. NC needs to do this to revive the entire fishery.

    • No, do your research. After Florida banned the use of Gill nets, New Smyrna became the shark biting capital….my God, do your research. The Florida waters and the fish stock are DEAD. Quit being babies because commercial fisheam catch more than you do playing. The fish a good and respectful commmercial fisherman catches feed the masses. They have been regulated out of a lively hood so the sports can play and feed their egos. And don’t get me started on the pencil pushing people making these obsired rules, maybe get your ass out there and see for yourself.

      • you do your research –commercial fishermen and netters have RUINED the flounder stocks and yet you’re so prejuiced you can see the forest for the trees.

  10. If stock status is soo bad -same as Rock in Neuse River – shut it down for ALL until stock status up and plan GOOD management process for future before opening again

  11. A true example of the epitome of stupidity the lawmakers have no clue they probably don’t even own fishing rods paper pushers is all they are if you can’t catch flounder find me more prevalent now than ever

  12. I’m a recreational fisherman and last few years have been great, …not only the netters but trawlers raping the creeks and rivers watched them and thousand pound of flounder mixed in when there shrimping…that’s the issue more things csnt grow if caught in the trawls and killed…Need to flood Raleigh in Au6 let them no we not taking it no more….they done it to the drum, stripers where will it end

    • Thank you Gary you said it correctly.The trawlers are raping our rivers and sounds. The recreational fisherman can never make a species of fish extent with a hook and pole. However somebody sitting behind a desk makes the rules that does not know a thing about fishing makes the rules.
      It is just like the Rock fish laws. Just keep the first two that you catch over 18″ and go home. When you throw most of these fish back they die.

  13. I can see both sides and agree something must be done. I would suggest lowering commercial quota’s. My Dad loved to shrimp to shrimp and growing up he would always take me along. While culling scrimp I remember seeing a large number of very small flounder. I think killing the juveniles is a bigger reason for the decline in the flounder population

    • David Lewis, that’s as honest as one can get and I agree 100%. Over netting is the main cause of bycatch. Also, increase the flounder min size to 18″. A 15″ flounder isn’t worth taking. There’s hardly ANY meat on the lower/white side. Reduce to 3 fish per day per person. There are other ways than just shutting it down.

  14. I flounder gig every now and then for a couple of flounder. Love doing it and love taking someone for their first time. My grandfather took me and I want to take my grandkids one day. I don’t go out every night, don’t fill a cooler full and never have even before there was limits. I never gig a founder that I’m not sure of it’s size. I went out one night with a commercial fisherman friend on the river to watch him pull a net. It was for recreation and put some shrimp in his freezer. I remind you he is a commercial fisherman and does this for a living on the big boats. This night and others we’re just for his personal gain. I was astounded at the amount of bycatch that was killed in the process of a hundred Yard net. Baby flounder and many other spieces of fish slaughtered just to get shrimp. It was heart breaking to watch and see all that was killed just to get a targeted catch. What was worse was looking up and seeing all the other boats around us doing the same thing. There must have been 20 or more. If you do some math it doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that this is your fish reduction problem. NOT the recreational fisherman. Take a moment and think about all the boats out there dragging nets. That’s a lot killing. I know commercial fisherman need to make a living but I look at it like this. When you have a career and the business your in dries up you need to change careers or move to change your career practices. Commercial fisherman have never been willing to change nor will they ever be. Why would they. The commercial fisherman has for years gotten away with killing a industry and not have to be held accountable for their actions. The recreational fisherman always gets hit with the blame and punished along with the commercial fisherman in attempt to appease the commercial side. It’s bull and they all know it. Stop punishing the wrong side for a change and do what needs to be done to get our fish levels back so we have fish in the future. End the season for commercial fisherman only and no more dragging nets in sounds and rivers for a awhile. The numbers will rise. Garanteed!

  15. I was a commercial Fisherman offshore bottom fishing ,,hook and line for reef fish ,,I saw fish catches decline drastically in 7 years it was amazing …been on a shrimp boat little and big and the “by catch of juvenile flounder and any other kind of fish in our water is staggering ,,,shovel loads of dead crushed fish from 1 inch to 4 4 or 5 inch size …there is no way regulating taking of adult fish alone will resupply the stocks if the juvenile fish are killed by the ton each day ,,,sad part on the other side the ” bad guys commercial fisherman are barely able to scratch out a living and work 5x longer and harder for less and less $$ ..they dont want to wipe out a fishery either,,, just trying to feed their family ..only fisherman that are making $ and in my mind are the issue are the big fish companies that target a species then they move to the next .. the nets hurt every fishery and we can grow shrimp ,,maybe build open water tanks to gtow thenm so they have better flavor …I don’t know ,,but restricting ppl who grew up gigging and catching flounder generations back isn’t the right way …in my opion

  16. The recreational fisherman will never make a species of fish extent with a hook and line. The commercial trawlers invade the rivers, sounds and creeks where our fish are born and raised. Each time a trawler fishes these areas it is killing thousands of juvenile fish along with the breeding stock. It is plain and simple restrict these areas from commercial fishermen and our fish populations will come back.

    • Makes sense. Commercial fishers need to go out in the ocean and stay away from the creeks, inlets and sounds. More care must be taken with approved nets and throw the small fish back in bf it’s too late.

      • The by-catch is tossed overboard as the net is brought in and cleaned for use next time. Hop a trawler and work it for a few days. Different ones. Please don’t rely on word of mouth or questionnaires to help the study. Actually do several trawlers and keep and wiegh the by-catch just for shitz n giggles. On site and firsthand.

      • I gigged in the shallows and rarely see small flounder. Those trawlers operate in a “line” 1000ft offshore. Close enough you can read the names standing on a beach. Five or six lined up catching everything.

  17. They keep on stopping people from fishing they want have a job to do. If they go to do all of this then they need to charge less for licenses.

  18. Y’all are really full of shit recreational guys dead flounder don’t float and 15 inch fish have plenty of meat y’all just run your mouths

  19. For starters, the picture you used is a summer flounder. Rec anglers took a 33% cut in 2017 and rec anglers are not the problem. The gill net needs to be banned completely and a quota put on pound nets along with a moratorium on any new pounds.

  20. Not to worry. The World Economic Forum predicts that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.

  21. People don’t worry about the real problems like plastic dirty water and run off they just want to try to put people out of jobs and joe Morrison some people like looking at boats working instead of looking at married women on the beach if people would work together to clean up the nasty water the fish would pour into the sounds and rivers but that’s not really what some of y’all want just stopping a working man or woman is the plan for some of y’all

  22. Can anyone tell me the source of the information for the flounder population? I heard or read somewhere that it was from surveys conducted by young college students… I am a recreational flounder gig or that goes on more than 50 gigging trips per year. The flounder population this year is better than I’ve seen in the past 5 years combined and around 70% of my take are the Southern flounder species… I just find it very hard to believe that these statistics are accurate

  23. Funny how most complaints about commercial fishing are coming from people who want to enjoy seafood on the dinner table for the cheapest price. Grow up. This is about money and protecting party boats. Typical corn cobs here.

  24. Look up n.c shimp bycatch pamlico sound and you will see the problem with the fishery they should be in jail!! This happen every time they pull the net in 24/7 on every boat do the math. They could care less about the fishery its all about the money. What do you think flounder will cost per pound after this?

  25. If the stock is depleted as bad as they say shut it all down .Continue to increase runoff and pollute our waters and watch numbers keep decreasing.Its not over fished it over polluted.

  26. I also live on the water and a buddy of mine went fishing off the bank and a recreational fishing boat came up with a 100 white perch and gave them to him and then went right back and caught another cooler full he didn’t want and I see it all the time so some of y’all act like y’all care so much about it and I see different and at the fishing meetings must of the ones acting like they care are ones carry people out and getting paid

  27. Lived by the sea everyday have commercial and recreational friends that I both hep and fish with all the time. From first hand experience I must agree that the GILL NETS MUST STOP. The commercial fisherman are taking a HUGE toll on our waters here in N.C.. Look at our states next door SC and Virginia have a great fishery and strict net laws. Also the weight quota is way to high for commercial giggers and netters. Doesn’t matter until the law makers take a look for themselves to see what is going on.

  28. Move to South Carolina Benjamin bye the way they sell tons of herrings every year and North Carolina has cut back commercial fishing about 75 percent in a few years but you want be happy until you have it all and they have nothing

  29. I had a small net boat with commercial license for 25+ years in NC and every time I pulled the shrimp net in it had thousands of baby fish of every species in it and they were all dead! SC did not allow that then or now! I also set gill nets in the waterway and along the beaches. SC did not Allow that either. Now what states are cry about have a problem?

  30. I been shrimping for 27 years we are slowly but shurly just about out of business there is not even half of boats now as it was when I started do u know how many recreation dingbatters fishermen they are sheww I’m wid ceil Jones he should know he has caught more one tow most people ever seen.but tha dmf is not gonna be happy till they starve us out I’m gonna do it till I die no matter what

  31. These people need to work in a fishermens boots one good time. Thees are all yankees that sit here and want to set laws do drive the locals out of what they’ve been doing all their lives. People need to leave the waters to who knows them and that’s NOT someone sitting in an office in Raleigh. If you aren’t from here you shoulnd’t have a say so on what goes on and if you are from here and think all these bans and closures should be put in place, you need to move.

  32. Well if there is a shortage of flounder its not where I am fishing. I have always fished away from the crowd and looked for backwater areas with less pressure. I will typically flounder fish 5-6 days from late June to early September and in the past 2 year I have limited out more days than not. I noticed the last 2 years we did not find the larger 23-24 in fish as much but there were a decent amount of fish in the 18-20in range.

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