The winter flounder, Pseudopleuronectes americanus, (also known as black back or lemon sole) is a valuable commercially- and recreationally-fished flatfish. Native to western Atlantic waters, winter flounder are a common North American flatfish inhabiting sandy or muddy bottoms between Newfoundland, Canada and Georgia, USA. Adults prefer water temperatures of 12-15oC; they live inshore in the fall and winter, spawning in relatively shallow waters in the spring or early summer, then often (although not always, depending on food availability, water temperatures and possibly light intensity) migrate offshore, where they are found to depths 50 fathoms, for the warmer months. Unlike the eggs of other flounder species in the same area, winter flounder eggs sink to the bottom, usually in clusters. Winter flounder is a right-eyed ("dextral") flatfish that typically grows to 3-4 pounds, 58 cm (larger on Georges bank) and lives up to 15 years. Small-mouthed, winter flounders feed opportunistically on small invertebrates and larval fish, using primarily vision to locate food. Young and adult flounders are sensitive to waters high in sediment, which restrict feeding and this species is vulnerable to human activity because they spend much time in shallow water. Winter flounder are managed as three distinct natural groupings in the US: Gulf of Maine, southern New England-Mid-Atlantic, and Georges Bank, and three in Canadian waters: western Scotian Shelf eastern Scotian Shelf, and the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Heavily harvested, NOAA reports the US fishery has severely declined and although their most recent assessment has a high degree of uncertainty, all three US stocks are likely overfished.
(Bigelow and Schroeder 2002; Decelles and Cadrin 2011; Hendrickson, Nitschke and Terceiro 2006; NOAA Fishwatch; Pereira et al. 1999; Wikipedia 2011)
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