Marine Fisheries Commission chooses combination of management tools for southern flounder

December 2015

In adopting a supplement to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan, the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission has instituted a combination of size limit changes, modifications to fishing gear allowances, total allowable landings and season closures.

Beginning January 1, 2016, the commercial minimum size limit will go up from 14 inches to 15 inches, making it the same as the recreational fishery.

To minimize regulatory discards with the size limit increase, the commission established a 6-inch minimum mesh size for anchored large-mesh gill nets.

Starting in 2016, a statewide season closure of anchored, large-mesh gill nets will be put in place each year from October 16-December 31. The December 1-31 commercial southern flounder closure will remain in effect this year.

Also beginning in 2016, the recreational southern flounder season will close October 16-December 31 for the hook-and line and gig fisheries.

Flounder pound nets will be subject to a 5 ¾-inch escape panel requirement. Flounder pound nets will also be subject to total allowable landings for different water bodies that represent a 38 percent reduction compared to 2011-2015 pound net landings.

The commercial gig fishery will close when the pound net quota is met.

The N.C. Division of Marine Fishery plans to present information on what the quotas will be under these regulations at the commission’s February, 2016 meeting.

In other business, the commission voted to:

Forward the names of Jack Cox, Kenny Fex, Bernie McCants and Jon Haag to the governor for consideration for nomination to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council obligatory seat.

Send a draft amendment to the Oyster and Hard Clam fishery management plans to public comment.

Approve information updates for the state’s Interjurisdictional and Kingfish fishery management plans.

Approve Amendment 1 to the N.C. Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan and two associated permanent rules.

Approve a rule that clarifies mechanical harvesting.

Send a letter to the governor, the state senate president pro-tem, the speaker of the state house of representatives and all members of the General Assembly requesting consideration of comments from all user groups related to the issuance of a joint enforcement agreement with National Marine Fisheries Service law enforcement.

Send a draft update to the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan out for public comment.

Audio of the meeting can be found online at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/mfc-audio-nov-2015. For more information, contact Nancy Fish in the Marine Fisheries Commission Office at 252-808-8021 or Nancy.Fish@ncdenr.gov.</strong>