MOREHEAD CITY – Commercial fishermen who wish to participate in the fall flounder gill net fishery in Pamlico Sound need to apply for a permit with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.
Applications are available through the division’s license offices and will be mailed to previous permit holders.
The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission decided at its meeting in August to delay the opening of the Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area to large mesh gill nets until mid-September to maximize flounder catches and minimize the chance of interactions with sea turtles. Fishermen typically use large mesh gill nets to target flounder.
By federal rule, all of Pamlico Sound closes to large mesh gill net fishing from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30 each year. The closure began in 1999 after several instances of fishery interactions with threatened and endangered sea turtles.
Since 2000, the National Marine Fisheries Service has allowed a highly-monitored, large mesh gill net fishery during the closure in limited areas of the sound under a series of incidental take permits. These permits, authorized under Section 10 of the federal Endangered Species Act, allow for limited takes of threatened or endangered species in an otherwise lawful activity.
North Carolina’s latest incidental take permit for the Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area expired Dec. 31, 2010. However, the National Marine Fisheries Service agreed last year and again this year to allow the large mesh gill net fishery in the Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area under the same regulations and permit requirements as previous years.
In May 2010, the division submitted an application for a statewide incidental take permit to cover set gill nets statewide, including the Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area. The application is still under review.
For more information, contact Jacob Boyd, division protected species biologist, at 252-808-8107 or Jacob.Boyd@ncdenr.gov.