FOR INFORMATION CONTACT:
NOAA Seeks Public Comment on Revised Control Date for
NOAA Fisheries Service announces (76 FR 5326) the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) is establishing a revised control date of September 17, 2010, for king and Spanish mackerel in the Atlantic exclusive economic zone. The revised control date replaces an existing June 15, 2004, control date for king (71 FR 70492) and Spanish mackerel (70 FR 67985). This notice announces the Council may, in the future, consider management measures to limit participation or effort for king and Spanish mackerel using the September 17, 2010, control date as part of a management strategy.
The revision of this control date does not commit the Council or NOAA Fisheries Service to any particular management regime or criteria for entry into the coastal migratory pelagic fishery. Fishermen are not guaranteed future participation in the fishery regardless of their level of participation before or after the control date.
The Council may recommend a different control date or it may recommend a management regime that does not involve a control date. Other criteria, such as documentation of landings or fishing effort, may be used to determine eligibility for participation in a limited access fishery. The Council and/or NOAA Fisheries Service also may choose to take no further action to control entry or access to the fishery, in which case the control date may be rescinded. Any action by the Council will be taken pursuant to the requirements for fishery management plan and amendment development established under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
Request for Comments
If you would like to receive these fishery bulletins via e-mail as soon as they are published, please e-mail us at SERO.Communications.Comments@noaa.gov. You will still receive a hard copy of these bulletins in the mail.
This bulletin provides only a summary of the information regarding the existing regulations. Any discrepancies between this bulletin and the regulations as published in the Federal Register will be resolved in favor of the Federal Register.
Southeast Fishery Bulletin
NOAA Fisheries Service Announces Closure Date for the
NOAA Fisheries Service has determined that the 2010-2011 recreational annual catch limit (ACL) of 409,000 pounds for black sea bass has been reached. As a result, the recreational sector for black sea bass in federal waters of the South Atlantic from 35°15.19' N. lat., (the latitude of Cape Hatteras Light, NC) to Key West, FL will be closed, effective 12:01 a.m. (local time) February 12, 2011, through 12:01 a.m. June 1, 2011.
For vessels which have a valid federal charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic Snapper-grouper, the closure applies to state and federal waters. The operator of a vessel that has been issued a federal for-hire permit for snapper-grouper must have landed any black sea bass harvested from either state or federal waters prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, February 12, 2011.
Amendment 17B to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Amendment 17B), which becomes effective January 31, 2011, retains these values as the respective commercial and recreational ACLs. Amendment 17B also includes black sea bass accountability measures (AMs), which are actions intended to prevent the ACL from being exceeded. If the ACL is projected to be met, the recreational fishery would be closed. If the ACL is exceeded, the ACL for the following fishing year will be reduced by the amount of the overage. That determination will be made before the next fishing year begins.
Contact: Patricia Smith
Marine Fisheries Commission to Meet in Pine Knoll Shores
MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will meet Feb. 10-11 at the Clam Digger Inn, 511 Salter Path Road, Pine Knoll Shores.
The meeting is open to the public, and public comment periods are set for 6 p.m. Feb. 10 and 8:15 a.m. Feb. 11.
A meeting agenda is attached.
The commission is scheduled to review recent regulatory changes in the ocean striped bass trawl fishery intended to minimize discard mortality. The commission will also review the current closure on the harvest of spotted seatrout due to cold stun events.
Other agenda items include:
Approval of new management measures in the southern flounder fishery. Based on a 2009 stock assessment, harvest reductions of 20.5 percent are needed to end overfishing. Proposed management measures call for increasing the recreational minimum size limit to 15 inches and decreasing the daily creel limit to six fish per person. No changes are proposed for the commercial fishery because existing commercial fishing regulations on southern flounder, implemented this past summer to protect sea turtles, are projected to result in the needed harvest reduction.
Review of a stock assessment for the Central/Southern Striped Bass Management Area of the state. The assessment could not determine the stock status for the fishery because there is not yet enough data.
The meeting begins at 6 p.m. Feb. 10 and 8 a.m. Feb. 11. For information, contact Nancy Fish in the Marine Fisheries Commission office at (252) 808-8021 or Nancy.Fish@ncdenr.gov.
Contact: Patricia Smith
Overloaded Fishing Net Causes Striped Bass Spill
MOREHEAD CITY – An overloaded fishing net prompted fishermen on a commercial trawler to release thousands of striped bass they caught Saturday off of Bodie Island.
After towing through a school of striped bass, fishermen on the commercial trawler Jamie Lynn found the net was so full it was too heavy to bring onto the boat. In order to retrieve the net, the fishermen had to open it and release the fish, the boat captain said.
The boat captain estimated 3,000 to 4,000 fish were released from the net. Many recreational and commercial fishermen picked up the discarded fish. When Marine Patrol officers arrived on the scene, there were approximately 250 dead fish.
The incident occurred Saturday afternoon.
The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries confirmed the specifics of the event through an eyewitness account and an interview with the boat captain.
Staff with the division is still investigating the incident but has been unable to confirm reports that commercial trawl fishermen were high-grading. High-grading occurs when a fisherman discards a previously-caught, legal-sized fish in order to keep a larger fish within the daily possession limit. While high-grading is not illegal, it is not an ethical fishing practice and the division does not condone it.
For this reason, the division plans to implement management measures designed to limit discard mortality when it reopens the striped bass trawl fishery for three days beginning Monday.
The division will replace the current 50-fish-per-day commercial trip limit, which has been in place for 15 years, with a 2,000-pound-per-day trip limit. To avoid the need to throw back dead fish, commercial fishermen will be allowed to transfer trip limits to other fishing vessels that hold a striped bass ocean fishing permit for the commercial trawl fishery. The transfers must be made in the ocean.
The new regulations will be implemented by a proclamation that will be released Friday.
The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will review these actions at its Feb. 11 meeting in Pine Knoll Shores.
The division opens and closes North Carolina’s commercial ocean striped bass fishery and sets trip limits under a quota system set out in the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is a compact of 15 East Coast states that manages migratory fish in state waters (within three miles from shore).
North Carolina’s share of the coast-wide commercial ocean striped bass annual quota is 480,480 pounds. It is split evenly between three commercial fisheries: the trawl fishery, the gill net fishery and the beach seine fishery. Approximately 110,000 pounds remains of the 160,160-pound quota for the trawl fishery this year. This is the first time in several years that N.C. commercial fishermen have come close to catching their quota.
Discards are a part of all fisheries, and the division strives to implement measures that minimize waste in all the fisheries it manages.
According to a 2010 Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission report, coast-wide commercial landings of striped bass in 2008 totaled more than a million fish; commercial discards were estimated at 395,400 fish. Coast-wide recreational landings in 2008 totaled more than 2 million fish. Recreational discards were estimated at more than a million fish.
Estimated discards are factored into stock assessments, and the most recent stock assessment for striped bass found that the species is healthy.
It is incumbent upon all fishermen – commercial and recreational – to use common sense in the way they fish. Commercial trawl fishermen should limit their tow times to avoid overburdened nets. Recreational fishermen should practice ethical angling techniques. Fishing responsibly today will help ensure there will be fish in the future.
Contact: Patricia Smith
Shad Fishing Gear to be Allowed
MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, the Marine Fisheries Commission and the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center have agreed to modify the sea turtle settlement agreement to allow North Carolina’s traditional American and hickory shad fishery to occur.
The fishery will be allowed only while sea turtles are absent from coastal waters due to cooler water temperatures.
The American shad fishery is closed in ocean waters.
Proclamations FF-10-2011, M-2-2011, M-3-2011 and M-4-2011 list the specific regulations for this fishery. The proclamations can found on the division’s website at http://www.ncfisheries.net/procs/index.html.
Fishermen will be allowed to use traditional shad nets in the above areas, which are typically large-mesh gill nets between 4 and 6 inches stretched mesh, not greater than 40 meshes deep. North of the N.C. 58 bridge in Carteret County, fishermen can use up to 2,000 yards of gill net; south of the N.C. 58 bridge, where the water bodies are much smaller, fishermen can use up to1,000 yards of gill net. Floats can be attached to these nets and the nets have no time restraints for being in the water.
Measures are in place to close these areas to fishing if turtle interactions occur; otherwise, the shad season is scheduled to close April 14.
Division sampling for the past 35 years shows there have been no sea turtle interactions during shad season. Sea turtles typically move out of North Carolina coastal waters as water temperatures cool during the winter months.
Once water temperatures warm in the spring, gill net restrictions will revert to the previous settlement agreement parameters. Also, waters not specifically exempted from the settlement agreement remain under the gill net restrictions, as set out in Proclamation M-2-2011.
Under these restrictions, fishermen who set large-mesh gill nets (4-inches-to-6.5-inches stretch mesh, inclusive) must use low-profile nets of no more than 15 meshes in height. The nets may be set only on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, no sooner than one hour before sunset each night, and retrieved no later than one hour after sunrise the following morning. Fishermen must use a lead core or leaded bottom line. They may not use cork, floats or other buoys, except those required for identification north of the N.C. 58 bridge; south of the N.C. 58 bridge, corks or floats may be used. The regulations limit fishermen to 100-yard sets with at least 25 yards between the separate lengths of net. Fishermen may not use more than a total of 2,000 yards of large mesh gill net per vessel north of the N.C. 58 bridge. Fishermen may not use more than a total of 1,000 yards of large mesh gill net per vessel south of the N.C. 58 bridge.
Contact: Patricia Smith
State to Close Spotted Seatrout Harvest Due to Cold Stun Events
MOREHEAD CITY – North Carolina will close all coastal waters to commercial and recreational spotted seatrout harvest for an indefinite period beginning at noon Friday.
N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Director Louis Daniel issued a proclamation today implementing the closure, after consulting with N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Chairman Rob Bizzell.
The action is being taken in response to recent cold stun events in Rose Bay, Juniper Bay, Pungo River, Campbell Creek, Turnigan Bay, Spooners Creek and other waters. The intent of the closure is to prevent the harvest of vulnerable cold stunned fish, which may recover with warming temperatures.
“On the heels of two cold stun events, one in 2010 and now in 2011, and pretty large commercial and recreational catch rates in 2009, I believe this is the best thing for the fishery,” Daniel said.
In approving the Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan in November, the Marine Fisheries Commission authorized Daniel to temporarily close harvest in the event of a cold stun event. The commission will review the closure and consider extending it at is Feb. 11 meeting in Pine Knoll Shores.
For more information, contact division biologist Beth Burns at (252) 473-5734, extension 221, or Beth.Burns@ncdenr.gov.
Accountability Measures for Nine South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper Species
Public Hearings/Scoping Meetings Set to Address Federal Fisheries Issues
Council seeks input on Annual Catch Limits, trip limits, catch shares, and other management measures
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is holding a series of public hearings and scoping meetings regarding fisheries management measures proposed for several federally managed species, including those within the snapper grouper management complex, dolphin (fish), wahoo, golden crab, and octocorals within the South Atlantic region. The measures will impact both commercial and recreational fishermen who fish in federal waters between 3 and 200 miles offshore ranging from the North Carolina/Virginia state line southward to the east coast of Florida and the Florida Keys.
Public Hearings will be held on three separate amendments:
Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit Amendment to establish Annual Catch Limits and Accountability Measures for species not currently listed as undergoing overfishing as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Annual Catch Limits (pounds or number of fish) will be set for species in the snapper grouper management complex as well as dolphin, wahoo, and golden crab.
Snapper Grouper Regulatory Amendment 9 includes commercial trip limit options for greater amberjack, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, and gag grouper.
Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment 2 includes actions relative to the management of octocorals and non-regulatory actions that update existing Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) information. Also, modifications to the management of Special Management Zones in South Carolina, sea turtle release gear requirements for the commercial snapper grouper fishery, designation of new EFH areas and EFH-Habitat Areas of Particular Concern are being considered.
Informal Public Scoping comments will be taken on four amendments currently being considered by the Council:
A Comprehensive Catch Shares Amendment (Amendment 21) is being considered to look at options for catch share programs for species currently under management through quotas (except snowy grouper), effort and participation reduction, and endorsement actions. Snapper Grouper Amendment 22 explores options for long-term management of red snapper as the stock begins to rebuild, while Amendment 24 addresses the mandates of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to end overfishing and rebuild the red grouper stock. Scoping comments will also be taken on Golden Crab Amendment 5 to implement a catch share program for the commercial golden crab fishery.
The hearings/meetings will be open from 3:00 PM – 7:00 PM. Council staff will provide periodic presentations and be on hand to answer questions. Local Council representatives will take formal comments on the public hearing documents any time between those hours. Public testimony will be video-streamed live via a link from the Council’s website at www.safmc.net as they occur.
The Council is also accepting written and email comments from January 12, 2011 until 5:00 p.m. on February 14, 2011. Copies of the public hearing and scoping documents with details on how to submit written comments will be posted on the Council’s web site and available by contacting the Council office at 843/571-4366 or Toll Free 866/SAFMC-10.
SAFMC Public Hearing/Scoping Meeting Schedule
Monday, January 24
Wednesday, January 26
Thursday, January 27
Monday, January 31
Tuesday, February 1
Thursday, February 3
The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, one of eight regional councils, conserves and manages fish stocks from three to 200 miles offshore of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and east Florida.