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Southern Flounder FMP Advisory Committee to meet

The Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan Advisory Committee will meet at 6 p.m., March 6 at the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Washington regional office, 943 Washington Square Mall, Washington.

The meeting is slated to adjourn at 9 p.m. Public comment is scheduled for 8 p.m.

The committee is assisting the Division of Marine Fisheries with development of Amendment 2 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan, which could result in management measures impacting both commercial and recreational fisheries.

A 2018 Southeast Regional Southern Flounder Stock Assessment found that southern flounder is overfished and overfishing is occurring throughout the region. Overfished means the population size is too small. Overfishing means the removal rate is too high.

The current draft of Amendment 2 includes possible management measures for North Carolina designed to end overfishing of southern flounder and to rebuild the stock within 10 years.

However, Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan has asked the division to delay action on measures to rebuild the stock in 10 years to allow North Carolina time to coordinate southern flounder management with the other Southeastern states. Without this coordination, management measures may not work.

At the upcoming March meeting, the advisory committee is scheduled to continue to develop, discuss and possibly vote on management measures in draft Amendment 2.

Recommendations from the committee will be brought to the Marine Fisheries Commission in May. The Marine Fisheries Commission will then vote on draft management measures to take out for public comment. Afterward, the draft measures would come back to the commission for possible adoption in August and be implemented by proclamation before the fall.

Draft Amendment 2 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan and other information given to the committee at its February meeting can be found online at portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/southern-flounder-topic.

For more information, contact Mike Loeffler at Michael.Loeffler@ncdenr.gov or 252-264-3911 or Anne Markwith at Anne.Markwith@ncdenr.gov or 910-796-7292.

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