Summer Flounder - 2012
Stock Status – Viable – The 2011 National Marine Fisheries Service’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center stock assessment indicates the stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring based on the current biological reference points. Fishing mortality has steadily decreased since the early 1990s. Spawning stock biomass has generally increased since the early 1990s. The summer flounder stock is considered to have reached the biomass target in 2010, therefore the stock is considered rebuilt, ahead of the rebuilding deadline of January 1, 2013.
Average Commercial Landings and Value – 2002– 2011 – 3,469,244 lbs./$6,614,770
2011 Commercial Landings and Value – 2,854,122 lbs./$6,136,614 (quota– managed)
Average Recreational Landings – 2002– 2011 – 146,609 lbs., 2011 – 100,543 lbs.
Average Number of Award Citations (5 lbs.) 2002–2011* – 371, 2011* – 225
Status of Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) – In North Carolina, summer flounder are currently included in the Interjurisdictional FMP, which defers to Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC)/Mid– Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (MAFMC) FMP compliance requirements and are currently managed under Amendment 12 to the joint ASMFC/MAFMC FMP for summer flounder. Management measures include commercial quotas, minimum mesh sizes for trawls, minimum fish size limits, recreational bag limits, and a moratorium on new entrants into the commercial fishery. The N.C. Southern Flounder FMP also affects the harvest of this species.
Research and Data Needs – Discard mortality estimates, age comparisons of northern and southern fish using scales and otoliths, continued expansion of observer coverage in the flounder trawl and scallop dredge fisheries, and species composition of recreationally released flounder.
Current Regulations – Commercial: 14-inches total length (TL) minimum size limit; harvest seasons and minimum mesh size for the flounder trawl fishery; bycatch trip limit of 100 lbs. during closed trawl season. A License to Land Flounder from the Atlantic Ocean is required to land more than 100 lbs. per trip. Recreational: 15-inches TL minimum size limit/6 fish creel limit for all joint and coastal waters.
Harvest Season — Commercial: January through December. The flounder trawl season is open from January until 80 percent of the annual quota is harvested and reopens in November until the remaining quota is harvested; bycatch trip limit of 100 lbs. during closed season. Recreational: Year-round with peak catches from June through August.
Size and Age at Maturity – Females: 11 inches TL/1.5 years; Males: 10 inches TL/1 year
Historical and Current Maximum Age – 15 years/14 years
Juvenile Abundance Index 2002– 2011^ – 8.7, 2011^ – 6.6 (not validated)
Habits and Habitats – Summer flounder are estuarine dependent members of the left-eyed flounder family that also include southern flounder and Gulf flounder. Summer flounder migrate offshore and south during fall and winter, and inshore and north during early spring and summer. Summer flounder spawn from November through March when water temperatures are between 53 degrees and 67 degrees. Larval summer flounder enter inlets and settle on sandy bottoms in higher– salinity areas of estuaries. After or towards the end of their first year, summer flounder move into ocean waters to spawn and join the coastal migratory groups.
*Includes southern, summer, and gulf flounders, but the majority are southern flounder.
^ Arithmetic mean from Pamlico Sound Survey (June only)
For more information, email Tom Wadsworth at Tom.Wadsworth@ncdenr.gov or 800-682-2632 or 252-808-8193.
|N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632 |