NORTH CAROLINA (WWAY) — Division of Marine Fisheries Director Steve Murphey has announced the 2020 commercial flounder seasons.
The southern flounder season will open and close as follows:
- Sept. 15 to Oct. 6 in the Northern Management Area, which includes Albemarle, Roanoke, and Croatan sounds and their tributaries;
- Oct. 1 to Oct. 19 in the Central Management Area, which includes Pamlico Sound, and the Tar, Pamlico, Neuse, and Pungo rivers and their tributaries;
- Oct. 1 to Nov. 2 in the Southern Management Area, which includes Core Sound and all internal coastal waters south of Core Sound.
For specific management area lines, coordinates, and maps, as well as gear restrictions, see here.
The minimum size limit will remain at 15 inches total length.
The commercial seasons comply with Amendment 2 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan, adopted by the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission in August 2019. The plan established the framework for 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.
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 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.