New Flounder Regulations Hit North Carolina Anglers
On Thursday, the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission voted 5-4 against a petition that would conditions on shrimp trawling that would reduce the bycatch of juvenile fish such as spot, Atlantic croaker and grey trout.
The petition, put forth by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, requested the commission to designate all internal coastal waters not otherwise designated as nursery areas as Shrimp Trawl Management Areas. The petition also outlined gear and time restrictions within these new areas.
On Friday, the Marine Fisheries Commission voted on final approval on the Draft Amendment 2 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan that was put forward at a special meeting on June 6.
The amendment calls for a reduction in southern flounder harvest to be achieved through “season closures for the commercial and recreational fishermen, and restrictions of yardage and times for gill nets and daily harvests limits for pound nets and gigs.”
The amendment proposes a 72% reduction in harvest beginning in 2020 to be achieved through commercial and recreational season closures. The division also proposes yardage and time restrictions for gill nets and prohibiting the use of puncturing devices, such as gaffs, in the pound net fishery. The management measures are expected to become effective next week and remain in place until adoption and implementation of Amendment 3 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan, scheduled for completion in 2021.
While commercial fisherman will be impacted by this plan, it still allows access to the fishery under certain catch limits and seasons unlike the plan’s impact on the recreational angler that offers no options other than total closure. It’s feared that this closure will only create a “snowball” effect on the coastal North Carolina fishery by placing additional pressure on species like redfish and speckled trout due to the total closure of flounder.