NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Proposed regulations could start reining in certain commercial and recreational fisherman.
The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission voted last week to accept recommendations to help stop over fishing of flounder.
Nothing is final yet, but the commission is looking at implementing a commercial and recreational flounder season to keep the southern flounder population from running too low.
“It’s definitely going to set us all back,” commercial fisherman Breece Gahl said. “That’s a huge fishery for us in the summertime and it’s where we make a lot of our money.”
From recreational to commercial fishing, local fishermen might have to steer away from flounder.
“You know it’s a big local-only push around this area,” Mott’s Channel Seafood Manager Thomas Franz said. “So flounder being one of the local fish, if we have to import from somewhere else, it’s going to definitely drive the price up. It’s just supply and demand.”
Franz says flounder brings in a huge amount of their business.
If the recommendations are finalized, recreational fishermen will not be able to catch flounder for a year, and commercial fishermen will only be allowed to catch flounder during a few weeks in the fall.
“I understand that there has to been something done for the conservation of the fish,” Franz said. “I’m not against that. but this is what I do and there are a lot of guys’ jobs on the line.”
With things still uncertain, Franz says they could be forced to replace their flounder with other options or limit when they can sell it.
With the flounder industry very much a part of Gahl’s livelihood, he may have to shift focus to other fish.
“At the end of the day, I am trying to pay my light bill or rent and survive,” Gahl said. “The fact that I am doing it for a living, at the end of the day, I’m going to do anything and everything I can to make a dollar off the water each day.”
The commission will have a final vote on the draft amendment in August.
The proposal would lower southern flounder harvest by 72% in 2020. It also includes other proposed regulations on how flounder is caught.