NC Division of Marine Fisheries

MOREHEAD CITY — Local commercial and recreational fishermen may notice some changes to the flounder seasons this year.

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries announced Wednesday it has adjusted the recreational and commercial flounder seasons for 2021 to ensure a sustainable fishery.

In 2019, the DMF recommended and the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission approved substantial harvest reductions in the flounder fishery to rebuild the southern flounder stock. According to the DMF, these season adjustments are necessary to meet that goal.

The recreational flounder season will open Wednesday, Sept. 1 and close Tuesday, Sept. 14 in internal and ocean waters of North Carolina. The minimum size limit will remain 15 inches total length and the creel limit will remain four fish per person, per day during the open recreational season.

Since all species of flounder are managed under the same recreational regulations, the recreational season applies to all recreational flounder fishing.

The commercial southern flounder harvest seasons will open on the following schedule:

  • Northern Area (waters north of Pamlico Sound) – Wednesday, Sept. 15 through Friday, Oct. 1.
  • Central Area (Pamlico Sound and its tributaries) – Oct. 1 through Tuesday, Oct. 19.
  • Southern Area (waters from Core Sound to the South Carolina line) – Oct. 1 through Thursday, Oct. 21.

All commercial gears that target southern flounder, such as large mesh gill nets and flounder pound nets, must be removed from the water when the season is closed, or made inoperable in the case of flounder pound nets. The catfish and shad fisheries, which use large mesh gill nets, will be allowed in areas where interactions with southern flounder are unlikely.

The flounder fishery is managed under Amendment 2 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan. Amendment 2 included southern flounder harvest reductions of 62% in 2019 and 72% beginning in 2020 for the recreational and commercial fisheries. The total removals allowed in both years under these reductions were exceeded in both sectors, resulting in the seasonal adjustments.

Reductions in harvest are required because the 2019 South Atlantic Southern Flounder Stock Assessment found southern flounder is overfished and overfishing is occurring throughout the region, which extends from the North Carolina coast through the eastern coast of Florida. Overfished means the population is too small, while overfishing means the removal rate is too high.

The DMF said North Carolina is “leading the rebuilding effort with the Marine Fisheries Commission adoption of Amendment 2.”

It’s also developing Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan Amendment 3, “which examines more robust management strategies, such as quotas, slot limits, size limit changes, gear changes, and species-specific management for the recreational fishery,” the DMF said.

More information about the southern flounder fishery is available online at

(5) comments


Read the headline, and just have to say, REALLY, at this point,lol............... [wink]


I have been hears for over 50 years form other commercial fishermen, That say if our state would stop the trawls and shrimping. In the inland waters we would have a better fish stock any other state. But for 50 plus years no one will listen or take action to stop it.


Who said that ^^? Was wondering what scientific study would prove your assertion…because Florida found that fish mortality/discards were just removed from the commercial sector and reallocated to the recreational fisheries!


Not 1 marine species has even been close to reported extinct in over 55 years. ( More From Less, Andrew McAfee , MIT prof. )


Ok ( US shrimp trawlers produce bycatch ratios between 3:1 (3 bycatch:1 shrimp) and 15:1 (15 bycatch:1 shrimp). Trawl nets in general, and shrimp trawls in particular, have been identified as sources of mortality for cetacean and finfish species. When bycatch is discarded (returned to the sea), it is often dead or dying) This is the scientific study from a real small thing called Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. I know you can or wont read and then you will say well in 11 other states it is not like that. But Yes it is. You are just lying to the ones who are reading this hoping they will believe you. But look it up. The reports all show the same things. We kill approximately 3 fish to every 1 shrimp we catch! Let that sit in for a few minutes. So in short is the landing for trawler's last year was 1 million pounds of shrimp, Then the Bycatch was what?? The average shrimp weighs what?? In the store and at the Dock they sell them by the pound but is can be 10 to 15 shrimp to make a pound! So you see now how hard is it to get the exact numbers for the Koo laid drinkers. But i have been doing this for a long time on the water and i fish too. Oh and Yes i do have A brother who is a commercial fishermen and he will tell you the same things i have said. Now i go out with him regularly and no our fish stock is not in good shape. And The collapse and recovery of North Sea herring ! Still is not back. And Dead fish thrown over board do not help anyone!! But you keep riding the unicorn thinking you are right. Proof is in the numbers we have now! Getting less and less every few years under the current regulations and operations we use today.

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