The state Marine Fisheries Commission will meet later this month to consider instituting fishing seasons to help increase the stock of one of the state’s key commercial fish species.
A recent assessment of marine fish stocks indicated too many southern flounder are being harvested from North Carolina waters, and those remaining may not be able to produce enough offspring to keep population numbers up.
“The demise of the stock has been overharvesting, for the most part,” said Marine Fisheries Biologist Supervisor Lee Paramore. “That’s sort of where we’re at right now, we have to find a way to minimize the harvest to rebuild the age structure of the population and to rebuild the spawning stock to make it more sustainable.”
State officials are looking to make significant cuts to the amount of flounder commercial and recreational fishers are allowed to harvest. The state Marine Fisheries Commission will meet August 21- 23, 2019, to amend the southern flounder’s management plan.
“We are looking at some major reductions on southern flounder, between probably 62-72 percent reductions,” said Paramore. “They’ve been overfished for quite a while and overfishing has been occurring. The reductions are aimed at rebuilding that stock in about a ten-year timeframe.”
North Carolina's commercial fishers landed nearly 1.4 million pounds of Southern Flounder two years ago, worth more than $5.6 million dollars. The species is also a significant target for recreational fishing.
Paramore said this latest overview of fish stocks managed by the state also indicates low numbers for the blue crab, but only minor reductions will be necessary to get the crab population back up.