MOREHEAD CITY – Beginning Monday, large mesh gill nets set in portions of Albemarle, Croatan and Roanoke sounds will again fall under stricter regulations required by a sea turtle lawsuit settlement agreement.
The action is being taken because the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries observed interactions between gill nets and two sea turtles – one green and one Kemp’s ridley – in these waters.
The regulations will apply in portions of Albemarle, Croatan and Roanoke sounds east of the mouth of the Alligator River and Wright Memorial Bridge. The regulations prohibit fishermen from setting gill nets between 4-inches and 6 ½-inches stretched mesh in the daytime and on weekends and specify other gear restrictions.
For specific regulations, a map and coordinates, see Proclamation M-46-2012 at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamations.
These measures were adopted by the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission in May 2010 to settle a lawsuit filed against the commission, the division and division Director Louis Daniel in federal court by the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic on behalf of the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.
In September 2011, the commission lifted the regulations in Albemarle, Croatan and Roanoke sounds north of the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge and the Washington Baum Bridge after the Beasley Center agreed to modify the lawsuit settlement.
The agreement was based on a full year of division observer coverage data that showed no commercial fishing-related interactions with sea turtles had been observed in these waters; however, the agreement required the division to reinstate stricter regulations if interactions between gill nets and sea turtles were observed.
The stricter regulations will remain in place until Nov. 30, 2012, or water temperatures drop below 55 degrees.
For more information, contact Jacob Boyd in the division Protected Resources Section at 252-808-8088 or Jacob.Boyd@ncdenr.gov.