State officials to consider proposals to preserve southern flounder population

State officials to consider proposals to preserve southern flounder population

By: McKenzie Bennett

MOREHEAD CITY, NC (WECT) - The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission is asking for the public's input on preserving a popular catch for fishermen.

Recent North Carolina studies show that the number of southern flounder could be declining. The commission has developed six proposals in order to preserve the population of the species.

Patricia Smith, spokesperson for the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission, said the commission is hoping to hear the public's opinion.

“I think that people care about flounder in North Carolina,” Smith said. “It is one of the most sought after recreational and commercial fish in North Carolina so they need to be aware that some changes could be coming down and they do have an opportunity to comment on what those changes should be.”

Smith said the commission wants a 25 to 60 percent reduction in the catch of southern flounder by enforcing stricter regulations.

Changes include size and catch limits, gear modifications and seasonal closures.

Robert Schoonmaker, executive director of the Recreational Fish Alliance of North Carolina, said these proposals will affect commercial fishermen the most.

“The recreational sector in the past has taken most of the reductions,” said Schoonmaker. “On the commercial side now, they are going to have to take the reduction in order for the flounder population to recover.”

The six proposals can be found online here

under "Hot Topics."

The commission will accept public comments between June 10 and July 10. Written comments may be submitted electronically to

. or by mail to:

Southern Flounder Comments

c/o Nancy Fish

P.O. Box 769

Morehead City, NC 28557

The public can also submit comments in writing at a public meeting from 1-5 p.m. on June 17 at the New Bern riverfront Convention Center.

The commission is scheduled to vote on which proposals to implement at its August business meeting in Raleigh.

Copyright 2015 WECT. All rights reserved.