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Marine Fisheries - 02 2015 NR Archives

Marine Fisheries

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News Release Archives - Feb. 2015


Release: Immediate
Date: Feb. 25, 2014
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

Fisheries commission delays action on logbook,
moves toward temporary flounder management

MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission delayed action on a proposed for-hire logbook, but moved toward temporary management measures for southern flounder at its meeting last week.

The commission voted to delay voting on a proposed rule regarding a for-hire logbook requirement until the August meeting in order to get more stakeholder input before the decision. The delay came after a large group of people from the for-hire industry at the meeting expressed concerns about the for-hire logbook requirement.

The proposed rule would implement a recent change in state law and require charter and guide captains to submit a logbook detailing their for-hire fishing activity for the previous week. Logbook reporting is needed to provide more timely catch information to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries for management purposes.

The commission also voted to pursue a supplement to the N.C. Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan to reduce the catch of southern flounder by between 25 percent and 60 percent. The division will present options to the commission on ways to do this at its May meeting.

The action followed a report on a draft 2014 N.C. Southern Flounder Stock Assessment. The division did not accept the stock assessment for management purposes after three peer reviewers noted the same concerns the division has. Some of the concerns are about recent studies showing that the North Carolina stock of southern flounder mixes with stocks in other South Atlantic states. These concerns can only be addressed with a regional stock assessment that includes data from other states.

On the other hand, while the stock assessment cannot be used for management, the North Carolina data show declining recruitment, the number of young fish entering into the stock, since the 1990s that is evidence of the need for further management measures. A supplement will allow the commission to adopt temporary management measures without going through the full fishery management plan process.

In other business, the commission voted to:

  • Give final approval to amendments to the shrimp, bay scallop and river herring fishery management plans and associated permanent rules.
  • Send the draft Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan Amendment 1 forward for rulemaking. The draft amendment proposes increasing the target fishing mortality reference point in recognition of striped mullet’s importance as prey species to many important finfish species; prohibiting runaround, drift or other non-stationary gill nets from blocking more than two-thirds of a waterway or interfering with navigation (similar to the current rule for fixed or stationary gill nets); and removing the gill net attendance requirement from Oct. 1 through Nov. 30 in the Newport River Trawl Nets Prohibited Area while leaving it subject to an attendance requirement from May 1 through Sept. 30.
  • Request that the chairman convene a Coastal Recreational Fishing License Advisory Committee to advise the existing Marine Fisheries Commission committee on the Coastal Recreational Fishing License grant program. The committee will be comprised of between three and five members, and will include at least one for-hire representative.
  • Request that the chairman convene a Marine Fisheries Commission Commercial Fishing Resource Committee comprised of members of the commission holding the three commercial seats and delegate authority to that committee for funding decisions related to the N.C. Commercial Fishing Resource Fund.

The commission also voted to adopt the following slate of rules, which could take effect as early as May 1:

  • Implement a for-hire endorsement on the commercial fishing vessel registration.
  • Combine two separate ocean pier licenses into one Ocean Fishing Pier License with the same net cost, as provided in statute.
  • Implement Addendum III to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Fishery Management Plan for American Eel, including a nine-inch minimum size limit, a 25-fish recreational possession limit, and a no-possession requirement for American eels from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, unless they are taken with baited pots. These regulations have been in place via proclamation since Jan. 1, 2014 to maintain compliance with Addendum III. Additional changes also include a minimum mesh length requirement of one-half-by-one-half-inch mesh for eel pots, allowing for a phase-in period until Jan. 1, 2017.
  • Update and relocate a rule that provides the Division of Marine Fisheries director’s authority to issue proclamations to resolve user conflicts concerning public trust resources.
  • Update the name of a canal in Brunswick County.
  • Remove the permit fee for the Atlantic Ocean Striped Bass Commercial Gear Permit, which is now provided in statute, and eliminate the Nov. 1 deadline to purchase the annual permit.
  • Correct an error in the inland/coastal waters boundary line in Queens Creek, Onslow County.
  • Correct grammatical errors and spacing in several rules.
  • Modify rules pertaining to the Division of Marine Fisheries director’s proclamation authority, for consistency.

nr-09-2015


Release: Immediate
Date: Feb. 18, 2015
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

Gear restrictions change for shad fishery

MOREHEAD CITY – Shad fishermen will be allowed to use drift nets with a larger mesh size when the season opens Friday.

However, the shad fishery in the Pamlico Sound will not be exempt from yardage, mesh depth and soak time requirements under the Sea Turtle Incidental Take Permit this year.

Between May 2010 and September 2013, the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries managed the state’s large-mesh gill net fishery under a lawsuit settlement agreement between the state and the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. This agreement allowed exemptions for the shad fishery in the cooler, winter months when sea turtles are not as prevalent in North Carolina waters.

In September 2013, the division signed an agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service that implemented a statewide incidental take permit for sea turtles in the estuarine large and small mesh gill net fisheries. While the permit carried most of the same restrictions on soak times and gear requirements and requirements for observer coverage as the lawsuit settlement agreement, it did not allow the exemptions for the shad fishery in Pamlico Sound.

A later received Incidental Take Permit for Atlantic Sturgeon does not allow this exemption, either.

The division is exploring options for modifying the incidental take permits for the Pamlico Sound shad fishery.

In the meantime, the division will allow shad fishermen to use runaround, strike, drop and drift nets with a mesh size up to and including 6 ½ inches. The current regulation limits the mesh size in these nets to smaller than 5 inches, but most shad fishermen use nets with 5 ½-inch mesh.

Runaround, strike, drop and drift gill nets are exempt from most regulations under the incidental take permits.

Runaround, strike or drop nets are gill nets that are set and then are immediately retrieved. Drift nets are gill nets used to capture fish while being moved along by water and while the fisherman actively fishes the net from deployment to retrieval.

For specific gear regulations for the shad fishery, see Proclamation M-1-2015 at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamations.

For more information about the incidental take permits, contact Chris Batsavage, with the division’s Protected Resources Section, at 252-808-8009 or Chris.Batsavage@ncdenr.gov.


Release: Immediate
Date: Feb. 18, 2015
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

Cultch planting meetings scheduled

MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will hold eight public meetings in March to receive suggestions and comments on cultch planting.

Cultch planting is where shells and rock are strategically placed to enhance shellfish habitat in potentially productive shellfish areas. Oysters, clams and other aquatic life are attracted to the cultch and begin to immediately colonize on the material.

In an effort to improve the cultch planting program, the division’s Shellfish Rehabilitation staff holds annual meetings to provide interested parties the opportunity to provide input regarding planting sites, methods, materials and quantities. 

The meetings will be held on the following dates and locations:

March 2 at 6 p.m.
Ocracoke Working Watermen’s Exhibit
Community Square Dock
278 Irvin Garrish Highway, Ocracoke

March 3 at 6 p.m.              
N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries
Central District Office
5285 Highway 70 West, Morehead City

March 4 at 6 p.m.                          
Hyde County Government Center
30 Oyster Creek Road, Swan Quarter   

March 5 at 6 p.m.              
N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries
Manteo Field Office
1021 Driftwood Drive, Manteo

March 12 at 6 p.m.
Pamlico County Courthouse
202 Main St., Bayboro
   
March 23 at 6 p.m.                        
North Topsail Beach Town Hall
2008 Loggerhead Court, North Topsail Beach

March 24 at 6 p.m.            
N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Wilmington Regional Office
127 Cardinal Drive Extension, Wilmington

March 25 at 6 p.m.
Varnamtown Town Hall
100 Varnamtown Road SW, Supply

For more information, contact Garry Wright, Habitat and Enhancement Section biologist supervisor, at 252-808-8058 or Garry.Wright@ncdenr.gov.

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N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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