The NC Marine Fisheries Commission met on August 23 to vote on the proposed amendment to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan. The amendment was adopted.
There were a few changes to the amendment proposed at the meeting:
- The Director of Marine Fisheries will have more flexibility in deciding when to open and close both the commercial and recreational seasons.
- For-hire vessels (charter boats/fishing guides) may be able to keep up to 4 fish per vessel per day when the season is closed, but this decision has yet to be finalized.
- The current rule that requires pound net fishermen to set their nets for 30 days in order to keep their permit may be reconsidered for the next two years. Many pound net fishermen are deciding whether to set their nets this fall, but don’t want to risk losing their permits.
The southern flounder fishery closed to commercial and recreational fishermen on September 4th. The recreational season will not reopen until 2020. The commercial season will “reopen on Sept. 15 in waters north of Pamlico Sound and on Oct. 1 in Pamlico Sound and all other waters,” according to a statement by the DMF. We expect the commercial season will close for the rest of the year on or before October 31, 2019.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU
We expect to see a decline in availability for inshore fish including southern flounder, speckled trout, red drum, black drum, and sheepshead. When this fish is available, we expect to see higher prices due to low supply and high demand.
Unfortunately, the impact of this could ripple throughout the industry and have lasting impacts on seafood supply from North Carolina fishermen. We’ve already heard several folks say they are not setting nets this year at all, which further decreases supply.
WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT?
It’s important to pay attention to these issues because the alternative to local seafood sucks. There’s just no other way to say it. Seafood sourced locally is better for you, the environment, and your local economy than imported seafood. There are a bunch of reasons why you should support local seafood, learn about them here.
Imported seafood has a lot of downsides. Chinese fleets have been caught illegally fishing in the waters of other nations, threatening fish populations globally. Slavery and human trafficking runs rampant in the Thai fishing industry. The FDA inspects a tiny fraction of the seafood entering the US, and what they do inspect is often contaminated with banned antibiotics or salmonella.
The power to keep seafood local lies in your wallet. The more you can support local fishermen and North Carolina’s seafood industry as a whole, the better access you’ll have to local seafood.