NORTH CAROLINA (StarNews) — A new management plan aiming to replenish the population of Southern flounder in North Carolina prompted the state earlier this month to close the 2019 fishing season for recreational and charter fishing and shorten the commercial season.
But the move has been controversial among fishermen — in large part because it’s the first time the recreational fishery for the popular fish has been closed.
It’s necessary, though, if the state wants to end overfishing of the flounder by 2021 and rebuild the spawning stock by 2028, according to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.
Southern flounder is a valuable commercial fishery for the state, worth $5.66 million in 2017, and is also popular recreationally. State mandates were aimed at a minimum 52 percent catch-reduction this year.
“That hasn’t happened,” said Tricia Smith, a spokesperson for the division. At the end of the summer season, she estimates there had only been a 42 percent reduction.