Statelines, State Lies, Don’t Take the Bait! (Southern Flounder)

By Glenn Skinner

November 20, 2020

Joe Albea and the NC Coastal Fisheries Reform Group have engaged in a smear campaign targeting North Carolina’s fishing industry, NC Fisheries Association, and NC’s Fisheries managers.

Mr. Albea has posted several videos on social media attempting to mislead the public and gain their support.  While he has a right to his opinion, he nor anyone else has a right to intentionally mislead the public.  I can’t possibly                address every false claim at once so this will certainly be the first of many responses. 

Albea recently posted a video that begins by showing Georgia’s recreational limit for Flounder which is 15 fish per day, then shows South Carolina’s limit of 10 Flounder per day, and finally North Carolina’s limit of zero and this simple statement is “Yes we have a problem”.

North Carolina anglers are allowed to harvest 4 Flounder per day when the season is open but Joe is correct that for most of the year, harvest is prohibited recreationally and commercially.  The issue with the video is the fact that it implies that the liberal bag limits in S.C. and Georgia are due to healthy Flounder stocks and Joe KNOWS this is NOT true.

The truth is NC, SC, GA and Florida share the same Flounder stock and the species is overfished throughout its range.

Unlike the other 3 states, NC’s statutes require us to take actions that should end overfishing in 2 years and rebuild the stock in 10 years, forcing NC to severely restrict recreational and commercial Flounder harvest.  Like NC, Florida and South Carolina are looking at options to rebuild the Flounder stock including raising size limits, lowering bag limits, and seasonal closures.  But, unlike NC, they have no statutory requirement to act, so their management measures will certainly not be as restrictive.

Unfortunately, most North Carolinian’s don’t follow fisheries management in NC, much less what’s occurring in other states, and Joe Albea knows it!  He is certainly aware of the fact that Southern Flounder are overfished in SC, GA, and many other states and that anglers in these states are not catching their limits of Flounder.  Still he chose to imply this is not the case in order to gain support for his personal vendetta against NC seafood harvesters.

As shameful as this is, Joe Albea was not the first to employ this misleading tactic.  Not long ago, the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) was circulating a list comparing NC’s recreational bag limits for several species to those in every state from SC to Texas.  At the time several of the states being compared to NC were already considering reducing their bag limits for species like Speckled Trout, Southern Flounder and Red Drum.

Like Joe Albea, the CCA assumed the public was not aware of coming changes and claimed the liberal bag limits in the other states were proof of NC’s failure to manage our fisheries.  Since that time, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida have changed size and/or bag limits for key recreational fisheries and more changes are on the way throughout the Gulf and the East Coast.  Despite this fact, the deception continues as the NC Wildlife Federation (NCWF) released an article on September 10, 2020 entitled, “North Carolina Fisheries Floundering.”

The NCWF article is full of misleading information regarding the management of Southern Flounder in NC and ends by stating “these are just the facts regarding the (mis)management of one species over the years, stay tuned for more.”  If mismanagement is responsible for NC’s Flounder woes, how do they explain the fact that Southern Flounder stocks are struggling in every state across their U.S. range from NC to Texas?

THEY DON’T!  Like Joe Albea and the CCA, the Wildlife Federation never mention that these states which have banned gillnets, closed inshore trawling and passed gamefish bills are struggling to maintain sustainable fisheries.

Instead they brag about the fishing in these states and urge NC lawmakers to blindly follow their examples and ban commercial fishing gears!  Meanwhile, the other states are following NC’s example and finally trying to manage their fisheries rather than simply reallocate the resource.

Ask yourself this, why would these groups consciously choose to mislead the public if the facts were on their side? That’s right, they wouldn’t!  They’re simply just fishing for your support, don’t take the bait!  “Stay Tuned for More.”


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