NCDMF leadership wants to give rec. anglers a one fish bag limit on flounder and a season closure while keeping gill nets in the water. The southern flounder recommendations are out.
“Catch reductions were estimated for five proposed management options to reduce annual catch and increase escapement of southern flounder: (1) implement a season closure, (2) increase the minimum size limit, (3) decrease the recreational bag limit, (4) implement a season closure and also increase the minimum size limit, (5) implement a season closure, increase the minimum size limit and decrease the recreational bag limit.”
“The first option is a season closure, which allows for more escapement of southern flounder, assuming harvest is not recouped and discards do not increase substantially. Season closures at the end of the season will have different impacts geographically and for each gear. Estimates indicated a season closure for the total fishery (commercial and recreational) will need to begin Oct. 16 for a 25% reduction and begin Sept. 1 for a 60% reduction. To achieve approximately the same reduction between sectors, the recreational fishery will require a much longer season closure than the commercial fishery because the peak catch occurs earlier in the season. The second option, an increase in the size limit, will allow harvest to continue throughout the current season and also increase escapement. Commercial gear modifications will be important to help mitigate expected discard increases. Estimated reductions from increasing the minimum size limit to 15 or 16 inches for the total fishery are 14% and 28%, respectively. The third option, decreasing the recreational bag limit, was estimated to not achieve at least the minimum requested catch reduction. The fourth option, combining a season closure with an increase in the minimum size limit, will reduce total fishery catch by an estimated 25% with a season closure starting Nov. 1 and a 15-inch minimum size limit. The fifth option includes a season closure, an increase in the minimum size limit and a decrease in the recreational bag limit. To achieve an estimated 25% reduction with a minimum size limit of 15 inches and a one-fish recreational bag limit, a season closure for the total fishery of Nov. 16-May 15 will be needed. Catch reductions for Options 2, 4 and 5 (those with a size limit increase) do not include further reductions that would be expected from an increase in gill net and pound net escape panel mesh sizes. Determining reductions levels and methods that are equitable within the requested range among sectors, gears, and geographic regions will be difficult due to the nature of the southern flounder fishery.”
“The draft supplement will be presented to the MFC at its May 20-22 business meeting, at which time, the MFC has three options: reject the draft supplement (ending the process), approve the draft supplement as presented for public comment, or modify the draft supplement and approve the modified version for public comment. If the process continues, the draft supplement will be available at an announced time for public comment. All public comments received will be provided to the MFC for its Aug. 19-21 business meeting, at which time, the MFC will select its preferred management option. Selection of the preferred management option is final approval of the supplement. If the supplement is approved, management measures would be implemented by proclamation and would likely be effective Sept. 1.”