The Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission announced this week the completion and final approval of the Management Profile for the Gulf and Southern Flounder Fishery in the Gulf of Mexico.
Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Florida are part of the five Gulf states.
Also known as left-eye flounders, the eyes of the adults are always on the fish's left side. The left or upside of the southern and Gulf flounders are light olive brown to dark brown or nearly black. Many blotches and spots are darker and lighter color. The eyeless downsize side is white or dusky. Gulf flounders are distinguished by three large dark eye-like spots, arranged in a triangle with a pair of spots midway on the length and a third closer to the tail. Southern flounders have scattered large spots, but they gradually disappear as the fish grows older.
The Management Profile is a cooperative effort to describe the flounder populations throughout the territorial seas of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and the fisheries they support. The Profile documents the biology of the Gulf and southern flounders. It also includes a description of the fisheries and current management, and discussion on the distribution, habitat, and genetics.
The five Gulf states management authorities, their laws, regulations, and policies. They also control the sociology and economics of the fishery.
Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission Interjurisdictional Fisheries Coordinator Steve VanderKooy explained the process.
"The Profile provides more information to the state agencies for their use in management of these two species," VanderKooy said. "Since we were again unable to determine a Gulf-wide stock status utilizing existing data for either Gulf or southern flounder, the profile highlights the data and knowledge gaps which currently exist.
"It would need to be improved upon should a regional stock assessment be desired in the future. The data that we do have strongly suggests that flounder populations are healthy, but we cannot provide a complete picture for Gulf and southern flounder at this time."