Anglers are advised the size limit for flounder recreationally caught in the Atlantic Ocean will increase from 14 inches to 14 1/2 inches effective February 8.

This size increase is necessary in order for North Carolina to stay in compliance with the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Fishery Management Plan for summer flounder. 

North Carolina is the southern end of the range for summer flounder. 

The coastwide recreational and commercial quotas for summer flounder were lowered in 2007 in order to help end overfishing of this important stock.

"North Carolina was mandated to reduce the southern flounder harvest by 8.1 per cent," said Chris Batsavage, biologist with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF). 

Batsavage said several management options were discussed, with the increased size for ocean-caught flounder being the least interruptive way to achieve the needed reduction. 

The 8 fish daily harvest limit for flounder remains unchanged.  The new regulation requires a minimum length of 14 1/2 inches for ocean-caught fish while the minimum length for flounder taken in internal waters, such as sounds and rivers, remains 14 inches.

The Line of Demarcation in each inlet serves as the boundary for ocean and internal waters.  This line is noted on most nautical charts. 

Of special note in the Cape Lookout area is the Line of Demarcation for Bardens Inlet runs between the Cape Lookout Lighthouse and the southeast tip of Shackleford Banks.  The area included in the hook at Cape Lookout is therefore ocean water and subject to the 14 1/2 inch minimum length.  

For more information about summer flounder, please contact Chris Batsavage, DMF, Morehead City, by e-mail at or by phone at 800-682-2632 or 919-726-7021.