DMF reduces season to meet sustainable harvest goals
North Carolina’s recreational anglers were looking forward to a six-week flounder season this fall, but according to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, the reduction to two weeks is necessary to ensure sustainability and rebuilding of the southern flounder stock. The commercial season has also been reduced.
The 2021 recreational harvest season for flounder will run from Sept. 1 to Sept. 14 in North Carolina waters. The minimum size limit (15 inches) and creel limits (four per person per day) have not been changed.
The season dates apply to all species of flounder.
Because the 2019 South Atlantic Southern Flounder Stock Assessment determined that southern flounder populations are too small and that harvesting of them is too high, reductions in harvest are needed to comply with Amendment 2 of the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan.
Another flounder amendment is in the works
Amendment 3 of the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan is currently under development by DMF. This amendment is looking at different management plans like slot limits, changes to size and creel limits, and the possible management of species-specific regulations that will set southern flounder rules apart from Gulf and summer flounder. The DMF is scheduled to review the draft of Amendment 3 this November.
Commercial harvest season dates:
North Carolina’s commercial anglers will also see changes this fall. Their season dates are as follows:
- Northern Area (north of Pamlico Sound) — Sept. 15 through Oct. 1
- Central Area (Pamlico Sound and tributaries) — Oct. 1 through Oct. 19
- Southern Area (From Core Sound to S.C. border) — Oct. 1 through Oct. 21
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