MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. — Over the last two days, the Marine Fisheries Commission meeting has had public comments on two big fishery management plans, Southern Flounder and Estuarine Striped Bass.

On Thursday, the commission voted to approve the Division of Marine Fisheries’ recommendations for Amendment 2 to the Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan as its preferred management options. Final action on the amendment is scheduled for August.

The commission voted to maintain a prohibition on gill nets above the ferry lines in the Tar-Pamlico and Neuse river systems and requested the Division of Marine Fisheries study the effects of the gill net closure. The commission plans to re-evaluate the closure based on this research.

The draft Amendment 2 will now be sent to the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality for review and subsequent transmittal to legislative committees for review and comment.

The commission also gave final approval to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan Amendment 3. The amendment contains the following measures:

  • Annual harvest quotas for the commercial fisheries divided by gear categories and by harvest areas.
  • Optional commercial trip limits.
  • A one-fish per person per day recreational flounder bag limit.
  • A recreational flounder season falling within an Aug. 16 to Sept 30 window (the season may be shortened depending on available quota). 
  • A March 1 to April 15 recreational Gulf and summer flounder season for hook-and-line in the ocean (landings may impact the August-September recreational flounder season).
  • Prohibited harvest of flounder with a Recreational Commercial Gear License.
  • An adaptive management framework with accountability measures to implement paybacks if the total allowable landings is exceeded.
  • Maintaining the current commercial gear requirements, including limitations on the use of large mesh gill nets outside of the commercial flounder season.

Division of Marine Fisheries Director Kathy Rawls said she has already scheduled meetings with staff to discuss implementing the flounder plan amendment, and she plans to announce the 2022 season dates as soon as possible.

In other business, the commission voted to:

  • Approve the 2022 Fishery Management Plan for Interjurisdictional Fisheries Information Update. This update did not make any management changes.
  • Concur with 11 Wildlife Resources Commission joint rules in 15A NCAC 10C .0100.