Local flounder in decline

Flounder is a popular seafood treat in our area, but the problem is that it is on the verge of extinction here in North Carolina.

Flounder is a seafood favorite for avid fisherman Tim Barefoot, but his favorite dish is quickly disappearing around North Carolina’s coastline. “Flounder fishing is a huge economic engine for all the coastal communities. More money is spent on catching flounder than anything,” Barefoot said.

Barefoot said recreational fishing is a $2 billion industry in our state. Between tourism and chartered boats, fishing is big business. Demand for flounder is high and supply is low. People keep fishing for them, but the population can’t reproduce fast enough.

Barefoot is the director of Fish for Tomorrow, an organization that is trying to breed more flounder. All flounders caught during Saturday’s Flat Bottom Girls Fishing Tournament will be sent to UNC Wilmington to produce more of the fish. Proof of their scarcity may lie in the fact that only 26 have been caught during the tournament. Barefoot said that is 20% less than what they should be catching.

Barefoot said he plans to bring the issue before newly elected legislators to try and make a difference. More flounder in the water means more fish to catch, sell and eat.

Fertilized eggs also go to South Brunswick High School for protection. At the school, flounder hatchlings are raised until they can be released into the ocean.