of Natural Resources
The results from a 2019 study of the Southeast’s southern flounder, one of the region’s most sought-after saltwater fish, were sobering: the research showed that southern flounder numbers were at historically low levels across the region due to overfishing.
Following the regional study, biologists from the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) confirmed similar trends in South Carolina waters: the overall abundance, number of young fish produced and average size of southern flounder were all down. A public survey showed similar observations and concerns among South Carolina anglers, who expressed a strong preference for quickly rebuilding the fishery.
Now, the South Carolina General Assembly has responded with a suite of changes that will reduce the harvest of southern flounder in South Carolina waters, allowing the population to begin recovery.
The new regulations include a minimum size limit of 16 inches and allow a catch limit of five fish per person, per day and no more than 10 fish per boat, per day. Previously, the minimum size limit was 15 inches, and the catch limit was 10 fish per person per day and 20 fish per boat per day.
The new regulations will take effect Thursday, July 1.
“These new management measures will end the overharvest of flounder, allowing the fishery to begin to rebuild,” said Phil Maier, who oversees the agency’s Marine Resources Division. “We’re grateful to the angling community for sharing their vision for the fishery and to the leaders who worked hard to craft this solution. We look forward to seeing this popular fish become a more common catch along the South Carolina coast.”
Photo courtesy of SCDNR.