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During the 1980s and 1990s, southern flounder became a major fishery in the state. This occurred because restrictions on the summer flounder fishery increased the demand for other flounder. The southern flounder became so popular commercially that the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries now considers this flounder overfished. The division approved a statewide management plan in 2005 that imposes new guidelines to protect the fishery and help it recover. Seiling discusses three North Carolina Fishery Resource Grant research teams that are studying the southern flounder to assist in better management and to provide regional data about the fish.
With its flat body and both eyes on one side of its head, the flounder is one of the more unusual fishes found in the state's coastal waters. It lives and feeds on the ocean bottom and averages about two or three pounds in weight. It can grow to a maximum length of four feet and weigh twenty-six pounds. For the state's commercial fishermen, the flounder is the number one money-maker among all other food finfish. It is a big favorite of sportsfishermen and especially of seafood lovers.