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2019 Flounder regs?

Old 02-11-2019, 04:40 PM
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...it's confusing, even xfernal got it wrong and had to correct it on edit when he changed his teaching moment ID of that photo as an obvious "Summer Flounder" to a Southern Flounder after Glen chimed in with his opinion on the ID.

That edit by xfernal makes some of the comments that followed his post to seem to be out of context as they were replying to his post.

What is interesting, and worthy of note, is that contrary to what many people think (like Glen stated in his post above) there is NOT a universal size limit for recs and comms on Southern Flounder. The 15-inch "universal" size limit is only for internal waters. Commercials have a 14" size limit in the ocean while recs are still held to 15".

How many Southern Flounder are caught in the commercial ocean fisheries and reported as Summer flounder?

...and for the record, while doing better than Southern, Summer are also in trouble.

Last edited by Rick S; 02-11-2019 at 04:47 PM.
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Old 02-11-2019, 05:11 PM
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It used to be, 15 years ago, that summer flounder were the ones in trouble and southerns were in good shape. Back in the days of the 15-1/2 inch ocean limit and 13 inch inside limit.
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Old 02-11-2019, 05:34 PM
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You guys are correct after I had to go through pictures on my phone and try and look at the darker dots that have halos or none. It’s hard to tell spots when they have been on ice for some time. The southern is the larger one I tend to see. The summer definitely seems to be a lighter color, not as large and found mostly around the inlets. Surprised nobody has chewed me out for saying that fish stickers should take less than rod and reel. Seems the areas get cleaned out fast, especially when the com boats come in and stick a bunch each night.
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Old 02-11-2019, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Rick S View Post
...it's confusing, even xfernal got it wrong and had to correct it on edit when he changed his teaching moment ID of that photo as an obvious "Summer Flounder" to a Southern Flounder after Glen chimed in with his opinion on the ID.

That edit by xfernal makes some of the comments that followed his post to seem to be out of context as they were replying to his post.
Yes, I can admit I made a mistake/typo, unlike some people. The point remains the same, without education for identification, we will continue to be punished for the Southern Flounder when Summer Flounder have bounced back since 1989.

Originally Posted by Rick S View Post
:...and for the record, while doing better than Southern, Summer are also in trouble.
And for the record... Summer Flounder are listed as viable. "Stock Status – Viable – The 2010 National Marine Fisheries Service’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center stock assessment indicates the stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring based on the current biological reference points. Fishing mortality has steadily decreased since the early 1990s. Spawning stock biomass has generally increased since the early 1990s. " - NCDEQ - Summer Flounder - stock status report

Yes, there has been a downward trend since 2010, but they are still listed as viable. "The 2016 stock assessment update indicates the summer flounder stock is not overfished but is experiencing overfishing." - species - Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

Summer Flounder are doing much better. when compared to Southern Flounder. About a 4 times increase in spawning stock biomass from 1990 to 2016. Yes, a little down since 2010, but still above the threshold for now.

As you know, there are many arguments on how this data is interpreted. The 2018 assessment could push it under the threshold, but until it is released, peer reviewed, and approved, it is still viable at this time. No need to claim the sky is falling yet.
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Old 02-12-2019, 12:00 AM
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Originally Posted by xfernal View Post
Yes, I can admit I made a mistake/typo, unlike some people. The point remains the same, without education for identification, we will continue to be punished for the Southern Flounder when Summer Flounder have bounced back since 1989.



And for the record... Summer Flounder are listed as viable. "Stock Status – Viable – The 2010 National Marine Fisheries Service’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center stock assessment indicates the stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring based on the current biological reference points. Fishing mortality has steadily decreased since the early 1990s. Spawning stock biomass has generally increased since the early 1990s. " - NCDEQ - Summer Flounder - stock status report

Yes, there has been a downward trend since 2010, but they are still listed as viable. "The 2016 stock assessment update indicates the summer flounder stock is not overfished but is experiencing overfishing." - species - Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

Summer Flounder are doing much better. when compared to Southern Flounder. About a 4 times increase in spawning stock biomass from 1990 to 2016. Yes, a little down since 2010, but still above the threshold for now.

As you know, there are many arguments on how this data is interpreted. The 2018 assessment could push it under the threshold, but until it is released, peer reviewed, and approved, it is still viable at this time. No need to claim the sky is falling yet.

....just to clarify the record

The Summer flounder stock was listed as Viable in 2010.

The 2016 stock assessment found that overfishing was occurring. You can't have a "Viable" fishery with overfishing occurring.

"Viable" = Rebuilt/Sustainable

Overfishing is not sustainable.

The current stock assessment status is listed as "Concern"...

http://www.asmfc.org/files/pub/ASMFC..._March2017.pdf

...not Viable.

Originally Posted by xfernal View Post
And for the record... Summer Flounder are listed as viable.

Yes, there has been a downward trend since 2010, but they are still listed as viable.
xfernal posted an outdated overview above.

The latest for Summer flounder can be found here-
http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/Summer-Flounder

You'll notice that while the ASMFC still uses Rebuilt/Sustainable (Viable), Recovering/Rebuilding, Unknown, Concern and Depleted to define status, those terms are no longer used by NCDMF.

Below is the DMF's reason for the change-
(Note: The real reason is they were getting hammered in public comment by the declining statuses year-over-year for multiple species- management failures.)

Changes to fisheries annual report changes terminology to reflect stock assessment determinations

MOREHEAD CITY – The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries is continuing efforts to better explain the health of the state’s fisheries by tying its annual stock overview report to terminology commonly used in peer reviewed stock assessments.

In this year’s report, the division no longer assigns fish stocks to one of the five former categories: viable, recovering, depleted, concern, and unknown. Instead, the stock status for a species is tied directly to the most recent peer reviewed stock assessment determination of overfishing and overfished/depleted.

Assigning species stock status to one of the former five categories had become increasingly difficult over time because definitions of the terms overlapped, and stock conditions were often in transition. Tying the stock status determinations to peer reviewed stock assessments removes subjectivity. For species that do not have an overfishing/overfished status, the report still documents trends in biological data and summarizes management.

It is the second consecutive year that the division has substantially changed the stock overview. Last year, the division altered the format of the report to clarify the role the state plays in management of each species, separating state-managed species from those cooperatively managed through a federal or interstate entity.

Last edited by Rick S; 02-12-2019 at 01:00 AM.
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Old 02-12-2019, 04:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Wickedfisha View Post
You guys are correct after I had to go through pictures on my phone and try and look at the darker dots that have halos or none. It’s hard to tell spots when they have been on ice for some time. The southern is the larger one I tend to see. The summer definitely seems to be a lighter color, not as large and found mostly around the inlets. Surprised nobody has chewed me out for saying that fish stickers should take less than rod and reel. Seems the areas get cleaned out fast, especially when the com boats come in and stick a bunch each night.
As far as rec gigging goes, since they changed the limit to be the same as rod and reel, I have no problem with it. Back in the days before that change it was a joke. I knew rec guys who would go to Hatteras gigging and come back with hundreds of fish while a rec guy could barely catch his limit. Nowadays there are good inshore fishermen who can get their limits on rod and reel same as giggers can. As long as the limits for both stay the same, I'm a fan.

I'm actually a fan of gigging as a harvest practice, both for recs and commercials, because it is a selective harvest practice vs gill nets. There's no bycatch when gigging.
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Old 02-12-2019, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Rick S View Post



....just to clarify the record

The Summer flounder stock was listed as Viable in 2010.

The 2016 stock assessment found that overfishing was occurring. You can't have a "Viable" fishery with overfishing occurring.
"However, most indices are variable in recent years and some show signs of slight to moderate rebounding. The NEFSC fall survey was unable to sample the summer flounder strata in 2017, however, the NEFSC spring survey biomass index increased between 2017 and 2018." - http://www.asmfc.org/files/PublicInp...nt_Oct2018.pdf

Sounds like it is getting better again.

I know the latest update was suppose to be peer reviewed late last year and we should hear something in early 2019. Has the latest update been approved yet?
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Old 02-12-2019, 12:32 PM
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I've been Flounder fishing off of the SE NC coast all my life with the best fishing on memory being in the 70's and '80's. Up until the last 3 years, it flat out sucked! And for the most part, it still does. However, over the last 3 years, I have caught more fish in the 18-28" range more consistently than almost ever before. (excluding the '80's) As a matter of fact, In 2017... I only caught one under size fish. In 2017 and 2018 there were multiple days where I had a 4 man limit before lunch. Just for the record, these have all been reef fish just offshore on wrecks and A/R's. BUT....These days are definitely not the norm but a welcomed sight considering the fishing from 2005 to 2015. One other note, These fish are almost always sitting dead on top of one another so if you're not on the spot....it still sucks lol.
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Old 02-12-2019, 02:00 PM
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Originally Posted by ndeason1 View Post
I've been Flounder fishing off of the SE NC coast all my life with the best fishing on memory being in the 70's and '80's. Up until the last 3 years, it flat out sucked! And for the most part, it still does. However, over the last 3 years, I have caught more fish in the 18-28" range more consistently than almost ever before. (excluding the '80's) As a matter of fact, In 2017... I only caught one under size fish. In 2017 and 2018 there were multiple days where I had a 4 man limit before lunch. Just for the record, these have all been reef fish just offshore on wrecks and A/R's. BUT....These days are definitely not the norm but a welcomed sight considering the fishing from 2005 to 2015. One other note, These fish are almost always sitting dead on top of one another so if you're not on the spot....it still sucks lol.
Your years given are almost exactly the same thing here. 2016 was OK, 2017 decent enough and last year was pretty good. Im talking Southern flounders tho. I have no clue what happened but "plenty" of nice fish around the last 2 years......given what you can keep anyway. It's been easy to pop a quality limit off in 30 minutes.
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Old 02-12-2019, 05:52 PM
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The opposite for me, but I think I'm a much worse fisherman now than I used to be.
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Old 02-12-2019, 08:26 PM
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No one mentioned the shrimp trawlers inside. I heard from A reliable source it's a shame how many baby flounder are on the deck dead.
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Old 02-13-2019, 05:30 AM
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You are exactly right about the trawlers.
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Old 02-13-2019, 06:27 AM
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You can see juvenile flounder on the deck in this video-

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Old 02-14-2019, 06:53 AM
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I guess all the flounder in the nets are only Southern Flounder? If not, then why are only Southern Flounder are having such an issue and the Stock Biomass for Summer Flounder have increased over 4 times in the last 20+ years? Once again, I am not saying I am for or against nets/trawling, only that the data does not support the claims. If nets/trawlers are the issue, there should be a similar decline in Summer Flounder and that just doesn't appear to be the case. Looks like a perfect example of causation versus correlation to me.
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Old 02-14-2019, 07:25 AM
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Well, inshore trawling is more likely to get southern flounder because they tend to be the dominant species inside while summer flounder tend to be more in the ocean (salinity preferences, I believe)

But I think its more likely that inside in general gets more pressure from fishermen both commercial and recreational. It isn't any one thing.
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Old 02-14-2019, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by N2theblue View Post
Well, inshore trawling is more likely to get southern flounder because they tend to be the dominant species inside while summer flounder tend to be more in the ocean (salinity preferences, I believe)

But I think its more likely that inside in general gets more pressure from fishermen both commercial and recreational. It isn't any one thing.
The fish in the trawls are juvenile.

"The larvae, or fry, move to bottom waters upon reaching the coast and spend their first year in bays and other inshore areas. At the end of their first year, some juveniles join the adult offshore migration." - Summer Flounder species - Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

" The post-larval and juvenile fish move into the estuarine nursery areas for food and cover. " - NCDEQ - Southern Flounder

You are right, Southern Flounder do like lower salinity areas, but all the juvenile fish for both species should be in inshore areas. Just like the gray trout prefers high salinity areas for spawning, yet is a frequent talking point on trawling discussions. I agree there isn't "any one thing" that we can point our fingers at yet.
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Old 02-14-2019, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by xfernal View Post
I guess all the flounder in the nets are only Southern Flounder? If not, then why are only Southern Flounder are having such an issue and the Stock Biomass for Summer Flounder have increased over 4 times in the last 20+ years? Once again, I am not saying I am for or against nets/trawling, only that the data does not support the claims. If nets/trawlers are the issue, there should be a similar decline in Summer Flounder and that just doesn't appear to be the case. Looks like a perfect example of causation versus correlation to me.
You might look at the range of Summer Flounder and the range of Southern Flounder and then compare those two ranges to where trawling takes place. I think you'll see the answer to your question. NC is pretty much where the two species overlap. There is no industrial shrimp trawling above the NC line. Summer flounder has plenty of "refuge" above NC in its primary range. Almost 100% of the Southern flounder's range (Yes, Virginia has Southern Flounder and very limited trawling) is open to trawling in some form- ocean, estuarine or both.

Summer flounder stock increased due to the great job the MAFMC and ASMFC did reducing harvest, particularly the fall/winter ocean directed trawl fishery where there was a lot of regulatory discards.

I don't think anyone is saying that "only" Southern flounder are caught in the nets. I'm certainly not. Trawling in NC's Pamlico Sound is a problem for Summer flounder and should be addressed.

Kevin Brown's Characterization Study found significantly more summer flounder bycatch than Southern- and at half the size.




Keep in mind that these numbers represent juvenile bycatch discards. Adult marketable fish are not included. There is a significant number of marketable southern flounder landed in the shrimp trawl fishery.

As the biology was explained to me by a senior Division biologist- Summer Flounder leave the settlement areas and start migrating towards the inlets at about 3" to 4" in length. Those juveniles are moving across the Pamlico all summer long heading to the ocean. Southern flounder juveniles say in the settlement areas to mature.

I agree 100% that the way "flounder" is managed is not fair to either sector. But I don't have the answer today for separating the species through proper identification. I do know that something needs to be done immediately to reduce Southern flounder harvest, regardless of unintended consequences for Summer flounder harvest- Tragedy of the Commons has ruled long enough.
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Last edited by Rick S; 02-14-2019 at 08:01 AM.
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Old 02-14-2019, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by xfernal View Post
Just like the gray trout prefers high salinity areas for spawning, yet is a frequent talking point on trawling discussions. I agree there isn't "any one thing" that we can point our fingers at yet.
Well, gray trout got decimated by purse seines with airplane spotters.
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Old 02-14-2019, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by N2theblue View Post
Well, gray trout got decimated by purse seines with airplane spotters.
That is not accurate-

This is the type of vessel that depleted the Weakfish stock-


Read this story- This was the problem.

https://1drv.ms/w/s!ArHvxdSx-xlqggT6EGuhGcZr21zw

This is Summer flounder trawling- same type of vessel as above. (I believe this vessel is the Tamara Alane, a NC based trawler.)


These trawlers are "multi-purpose" vessels that move between the Southeast shrimp fishery to the scup, summer flounder, black seabass, and squid fisheries, and to the scallop fisheries.

Here are catch photos from this same vessel-

Pamlico Sound Shrimp-





Northeast Summer Flounder-




Scallop



Same Captain, different vessel-

Scup




...and just because the vessel is targeting scup, doesn't mean that it's not creating regulatory discards for weakfish-




Black seabass



Mackerel



Squid




The above photos are an example of a successful captain and crew that know how to fish. Summer flounder, scup, scallop, black seabass, mackerel and squid are all tightly regulated Federal water fisheries.

These vessels should not be allow in the Pamlico Sound.

Last edited by Rick S; 02-14-2019 at 09:32 AM.
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Old 02-14-2019, 08:20 AM
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I stay confused and will be the first to admit it but answer me this. Why is it that during the past attempt to make certain species in NC as gamefish, the CCA types were using the argument that since specks, reds and stripers are so insignificant to commercial fishermen then it only makes sense. Out of the other side of their mouth they have now started an effort to do away with most shrimp trawling and it is probably one of the most important fisheries to commercial fishermen in this State. As I said I stay confused but think that even Stevie Wonder can see what is going on here.
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