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Commercial Flounder Season Announced

Southern flounder

The open and close dates for 2020 commercial flounder seasons in North Carolina were announced Monday by Division of Marine Fisheries Director Steve Murphey.

The season for the Northern Management Area, which includes Albemarle, Roanoke, and Croatan sounds and their tributaries, will open Sept. 15 and close Oct. 6

The season for the Central Management Area, which includes Pamlico Sound, and the Tar, Pamlico, Neuse and Pungo rivers and their tributaries, will open Oct. 1 and close Oct. 19.

The season for the Southern Management Area, which includes Core Sound and all internal coastal waters south of Core Sound to the state line, will open Oct. 1 and close Nov. 2.

The minimum size limit will remain at 15 inches total length. For specific management area lines, coordinates, maps and gear restrictions, see Proclamation FF-25-2020.

The commercial seasons comply with Amendment 2 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan, adopted by the state Marine Fisheries Commission in August 2019.

Harvest reductions are required because a 2019 South Atlantic Southern Flounder Stock Assessment found that southern flounder is overfished and overfishing is occurring throughout the South Atlantic region. Overfished means the population is too small. Overfishing means the removal rate is too high.

North Carolina law mandates that fishery management plans include measures to end overfishing within two years and rebuild the stock to achieve sustainable harvest within 10 years of adoption of a fishery management plan. The plan is to reach a 62% reduction in southern flounder harvest compared to 2017 in North Carolina for 2019 and a 72% reduction in harvest beginning in 2020. The reductions are to be achieved through various management measures, including limited recreational and commercial seasons.

The recreational flounder season was announced in February and will run from Aug. 16 through Sept. 30 for internal coastal and ocean waters statewide. Recreational fishermen using gill nets with a Recreational Commercial Gear License may set nets only when both the commercial and recreational seasons are open. Recreational size and creel limits apply.For more specific information on the recreational flounder season, see Proclamation FF-10-2020.

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.