All that anyone agrees on in the politically charged controversy over southern flounder is that new regulations that go into effect Friday will reduce the number of fish that are caught.
That’s good for recreational fishing enthusiasts and conservationists, who say the flounder stock is depleted. That’s bad for commercial fishermen who have plied the flounder trade for generations and say that fear is unfounded.
A long-postponed meeting of the state Marine Fisheries Commission in late November ended with the commercial interests losing in a split vote, resulting in new restrictions but doing nothing to calm the emotional waters.
In a meeting that lasted nine hours over two days, one member of the audience was ejected and a state legislator got into a shouting match with another. A newly appointed commissioner resigned amid threats and racist remarks that were posted online. The State Bureau of Investigation launched an inquiry into the threats, and the commercial industry is considering filing a lawsuit.
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