Fish Post

Releases – May 10, 2018

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The development of Amendment 2 to the N.C. Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan is underway and began with development of a regional stock assessment in late 2017. The Division of Marine Fisheries and state fisheries biologists from South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, along with university scientists, worked together to review each state’s southern flounder data and complete the first-ever regional stock assessment for the species.

Southern Flounder (Paralichthys lethostigma) are a bottom-dwelling species found in the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean, and estuaries from northern Mexico to Virginia. Flounder are caught year-round throughout the estuaries, inlets, and nearshore ocean waters of the state, with most of the harvest occurring in the late summer and early fall. It is one of the most economically important estuarine finfish species for commercial and recreational fisheries in North Carolina.

The stock assessment included data through 2015, and initially indicates the stock was overfished and overfishing was occurring. A stock is overfished when the population size is too small. Overfishing means the removal rate is too high.

Currently, the division is updating the stock assessment with data through 2017. These two years of data will be entered into the stock assessment model to make a final determination on overfishing in particular as fishing mortality, or F, declined slightly in the past two years.

Under the Fishery Reform Act, if a stock is experiencing overfishing, the Marine Fisheries Commission must put management measures in place to end overfishing in two years after adopting the plan. The stock assessment serves as the foundation for the division to develop the necessary resource management strategies and recommendations to the commission needed to end overfishing and ensure a sustainable stock.

As part of the division’s review process, an in-person stock assessment peer review workshop was conducted in December 2017. The peer review panel accepted the stock assessment model for management with the stipulation that the model must be updated with data through 2017 to provide the latest estimate of stock status for management.

The panel also noted that management advice based on the 2015 terminal year (the last year of data in the stock assessment model) would be out of date by the time it could be implemented. The division is working with partner states to compile all 2016 and 2017 data by the end of June 2018. Once the stock assessment model is updated, the results will be presented to the Southern Flounder Advisory Committee and the Marine Fisheries Commission in late 2018.

Once the updated stock assessment results become available, work will begin on developing management strategies for the Southern Flounder fishery. If the updated stock assessment results indicate the stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring, the division is required by law to develop science-based recommendations to end overfishing within two years and achieve sustainable harvest within 10 years from the date of adoption of the plan.

As the plan development continues, the division’s website will provide meeting notices for Southern Flounder Advisory Committee meetings, including times, locations, and agenda items. Each meeting contains a public comment portion, and stakeholders are encouraged to participate in the management of this valuable North Carolina resource by attending meetings, providing public comment, or contacting advisory committee members or division biologists directly to discuss issues and provide input.

For more information on the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan, please contact Mike Loeffler at Michael.Loeffler@ncdenr.gov or (252) 264-3911 or Anne Markwith at Anne.Markwith@ncdenr.gov or (910) 796-7292.

 

The Marine Patrol would like to remind the public that the spring and summer recreational fishing season will be kicking off with shallow water grouper species and cobia seasons opening May 1 and spotted seatrout season opening June 15, and there are a few things to be mindful of while getting ready to go fishing.

First, this is the best time to check the validity of your fishing licenses and renew them if they have or will soon expire. Charter captains should renew their For-Hire Licenses before July 1.

It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the current size and bag limits. While reviewing the recreational size and creel limit chart, you will notice that some species have a TL, FL, LJFL, or Curved FL beside the size of the fish which indicates where to take the measurement for that species.

Total length (TL) is measured from the tip of the snout with the mouth closed to the top of the compressed tail. Fork length (FL) is measured from the tip of the snout to the middle of the fork in the tail. Lower jaw fork length (LJFL) is measured from the lower jaw to the middle of the fork in the tail. Curved fork length (CFL) is measured along a line tracing the contour of the body from the tip of the upper jaw to the fork of the tail.

Having the right measuring device is extremely important to ensure that you are getting an accurate measurement. Any device that will assist you with closing the fish’s mouth and help you control the fish will help in obtaining the correct measurement.

A common mistake made by some anglers is relying on measurements indicated on top of fish cooler lids. Many of these rulers are not accurate and should be checked with a tape measure to ensure they are correct.

Another common mistake anglers make is in identifying mackerel species. Spanish mackerel and juvenile king mackerel both have gold spots making identification difficult. The best ways to differentiate between a spanish mackerel and king mackerel is that a spanish mackerel has a black spot at the beginning of its first dorsal fin and a king mackerel does not. King mackerel have a pronounced dip in the lateral line below the second dorsal fin, while spanish mackerel have a lateral line that gently curves to the tail.

Just as the recreational fishing season is kicking off, so are recreational and commercial shrimping. There are several things to keep in mind. Standard Commercial Fishing Licenses and Commercial Fishing Vessel Registrations will expire on June 30, so please remember to renew those on time.

Recreational Commercial Gear Licenses expire one year from their dates of purchase, so be sure to check their validity before you go fishing. Be sure to know what areas are opened and closed to shrimping by reading the current shrimping proclamations. It is important that fishermen have the required bycatch reduction devices installed in their shrimp trawls. In 2015, proclamation SH-2-2015 was issued requiring two bycatch reduction devices be placed in shrimp trawl nets. For approved bycatch reduction devices and their proper placement, see proclamation SH-2-2015.

Please feel free to call the N.C. Marine Patrol at (800) 682-2632 or (252) 726-7021 to schedule a courtesy trawl net inspection before you start shrimping this season to make sure your bycatch reduction devices are legal, properly installed, and that your shrimp trawl meets proper mesh size and headrope restrictions.

 

Sportsmen are spending millions of dollars on fishing equipment, but which brands are they buying? Southwick Associates surveyed more than 11,000 anglers in 2017 through their online AnglerSurvey consumer panel to identify the top brands in the market.

In 2017, some of sportfishing’s most frequently purchased brands include: Top combo brand—Shakespeare; Top fishing line brand—Berkley; Top hard bait brand—Rapala; Top soft bait brand—Berkley; Top jig brand—Dirty Jigs; Top swivel brand—Eagle Claw; Top rig brand—Sea Striker; Top fly line brand—Scientific Angler (3M); Top fly leaders brand—Rio; Top clothing brand—Columbia; Top landing net brand—Ego; Top tackle box brand—Plano; Top fishing knife brand—Rapala; Top cooler brand—Coleman; and Top trolling motor brand—Minn Kota.

A variety of key fishing products are examined in the Southwick Associates 2017 Fishing Participation and Equipment Purchases Report. This in-depth resource illustrates angler’s participation and shopping behaviors, including the percentage of sales occurring across different retail channels, brand purchased, price paid, and demographics for anglers buying specific products. Additional information tracked includes total days spent per activity, type of fishing, and targeted species.