MOREHEAD CITY – North Carolina will soon prohibit certain menhaden purse seine fishing operations in state waters.
The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission voted last week to prohibit the use of purse seines deployed from a mother ship for the harvest of menhaden within the state’s three-mile jurisdiction. The action mirrors a draft bill approved by a legislative study committee on marine fisheries issues.
“This is a conservation measure we think needs to be put in place,” said commission Chairman Rob Bizzell.
Commission members said they were concerned about the amount of bycatch associated with large purse seine fishing operations, and the conflicts that arise with other fishing sectors.
The measure does not prohibit smaller purse seine operations that do not use multiple vessels.
The commission asked Division of Marine Fisheries Director Louis Daniel to implement the closure by proclamation. Daniel said he plans to issue the proclamationin the next two weeks.
In other business, the commission:
- Voted to ask the division to develop a suite of potential management options for the protection of Atlantic sturgeon, which was listed as a federally endangered species April 6. The proposed management options will likely impact both large mesh and small mesh gill net fishing in the Albemarle, Croatan and Roanoke sounds. The proposed management measures will be reviewed by advisory committees before coming before the commission in August. The commission also agreed by consensus to write a letter to North Carolina’s congressional delegation outlining its concerns with the National Marine Fisheries Service’s decision to list Atlantic sturgeon as an endangered species.
- Voted to send the draft American Shad Sustainable Fishery Management Plan to the Regional and Finfish advisory committees for comment. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will require any state without an approved sustainable fishery plan for shad to close its fishery by Jan. 1, 2013. The ASMFC Shad and River Herring Management Board approved North Carolina’s draft plan May 1. The draft plan calls for a Feb. 20 to April 11 commercial season and a five-fish recreational bag limit in the Cape Fear River; a March 1 to April 15 commercial season in all waters except the Cape Fear River; and a one-fish recreational bag limit in joint and coastal waters of the Roanoke and Neuse river systemsto complement Wildlife Resources Commission regulations in inland waters.
- Voted to begin the rulemaking process to create a seed oyster management area in Possum Bay and Swan Point at the mouth of the New River.
- Voted to write a letter to the National Park Service opposing the Hatteras beach closures.
- Agreed by consensus to ask the division to investigate if further regulations are needed in the conch fishery.
For more information on the meeting, contact Nancy Fish in the Marine Fisheries Commission Office at 252-808-8025 or Nancy.Fish@ncdenr.gov.