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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - nr-41-2019 Flounder Comments

Marine Fisheries

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Release: Immediate
Date: May 23, 2019
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

Division of Marine Fisheries accepting public comment
on southern flounder management proposals

Significant harvest reductions needed to end overfishing and rebuild overfished stock
 

8-point rule

 

 

MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is accepting public comment on proposed southern flounder management measures intended to significantly reduce commercial and recreational southern flounder harvest to end overfishing and rebuild the overfished stock, as required by law.

Draft Amendment 2 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan contains options for several seasonal harvest closure scenarios to achieve up to a 72% reduction in southern flounder harvest for the commercial and recreational fishing sectors. Additionally, at the request of the Marine Fisheries Commission, the draft amendment includes an option for a partial moratorium.

Options for non-quantifiable management measures to constrain effort, such as yardage and time restrictions for gill nets and daily harvest limits for pound nets and gigs, are included in the draft amendment as well.

Details of the proposed management measures can be found on the Information on Southern Flounder Amendment page on the division’s website.

Southern flounder is one of three main species of flounder landed on the North Carolina coast. The other two species are summer flounder and Gulf flounder.

The public may comment on the draft amendment in three ways:

  • Public Meeting – The public may speak at a joint meeting of three advisory committees to be held June 3 at the Crystal Coast Civic Center, 3505 Arendell St., Morehead City. The joint meeting of the Finfish, Northern and Southern advisory committees will begin at noon and end at 4:15 p.m. and include a 1 ½ hour comment period. During the comment period, members of the public may speak for three minutes each on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors will open at 11 a.m.
     
  • Online Comments – Public comments will be accepted until midnight June 3 through an online format that can be accessed through the Information on Southern Flounder Amendment page. Computers will be available at the June 3 public meeting to provide online access to attendees.
     
  • Mailed Comments – Written comments may be mailed to Southern Flounder Comments, P.O Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557. Comments must be received by the division by midnight June 3.

The division will not accept public comment through email.

Reductions in harvest are required because a 2019 South Atlantic Southern Flounder Stock Assessment found that southern flounder is overfished and overfishing is occurring throughout the 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 of adoption and rebuild the stock to achieve sustainable harvest within 10 years of adoption. A harvest reduction of at least 52% is needed to meet the statutory requirements.

To increase the probability of successfully rebuilding the resource, the division proposes a 62% reduction in southern flounder harvest (compared to 2017) in North Carolina this year and a 72% reduction in harvest beginning in 2020 until adoption and implementation of Amendment 3 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan, scheduled for completion in 2021.

The Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan Advisory Committee, based on preliminary information, recommended a 31% reduction in commercial harvest (compared to 2017) and a 33% reduction in recreational hook and line harvest in 2019 (compared to 2017), increasing to a 52% reduction in commercial and recreational harvest in 2020. The advisory committee’s recommendation meets statutory requirements to end overfishing in two years but does not rebuild the stock to sustainable harvest within 10 years. The committee is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. June 3 at the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Central District Office to reconsider its earlier recommendation, as well as comment from the public and other advisory committees. The meeting is open to the public, but no public comment will be accepted.

The Marine Fisheries Commission is scheduled to hold a special meeting on June 6 to consider all public and advisory committee input and select its preferred management measures for departmental and legislative review. The commission is scheduled to give final approval of the draft amendment in August so that the management measures can be implemented by proclamation before this fall. 

WHO: Joint Meeting of the Finfish, Northern, and Southern advisory committees to the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission
WHAT Discussion and Public Comment on Draft Amendment 2
to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan
WHEN: June 3 from Noon to 4:15 p.m.
WHERE: Crystal Coast Civic Center
3505 Arendell St.
Morehead City
WHO: Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan Advisory Committee
WHAT Discussion of Draft Amendment 2
to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan
WHEN: June 3 at 6 p.m.
WHERE: N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Central District Office
5285 Highway 70 West
Morehead City
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N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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