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Marine Fisheries - 02 2018 NR Archives

Marine Fisheries

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News Release Archives: Feb. 2018
8-point rule


Release: Immediate
Contact: Patricia Smith
Date: Feb. 19, 2018
Phone: 252-726-7021

Marine Fisheries Commission asks legislature
to look at commercial fishing license criteria

MOREHEAD CITY — The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will ask legislators to make changes to criteria for commercial fishing licenses, but will not ask for an income requirement.

The commission voted Thursday to send a letter to the legislature recommending the below changes to Standard Commercial Fishing Licenses:

1. Develop a new commercial fishing license based on criteria to qualify current commercial license holders. Current license holders must demonstrate a minimal level of participation in the fishery as reported by landings (1,000 pounds of seafood products) or effort (15 trips) through the Division of Marine Fisheries’ Trip Ticket Program during any two out of five continuous calendar years.
2. Only allow license transfers or assignments to members of the immediate family or corporation of a licensed commercial fisherman.
3. Create a Crew License for individuals to apprentice with commercial fishermen for three years, after which time they would be eligible to purchase a standard commercial fishing license. The annual fee for the Crew License would be $100.
4. Cap the pool at 100, and establish a new pool to receive licenses that are not renewed each year. Any non-renewed licenses would be transferred into the new pool and used to fill new commercial fishing license demand for qualified applicants. Inactive licenses may be reactivated for a fee.
5. Inactive Standard Commercial Fishing Licenses that do not have requirements set forth by the legislature would go back into a special pool and these licenses may be reissued to the original holder without going through the Eligibility Pool.
6. Create a Heritage Standard Commercial Fishing License that families may want to maintain that are inactive that may be maintained for $100 per year and may be reissued one time to a family member without going through the Eligibility Pool or any of the requirements listed above. If reissue is not wanted, a one-time fee of $100 will retire that license number.
7. Graduation or completion of community colleges offering a commercial fishing program will be recognized as having served an apprenticeship eligible for an Eligibility Pool license.

The proposed changes require legislative approval.

In other business, the commission voted to:

  • Ask the Division of Marine Fisheries to temporarily stop issuing shellfish leases and accepting shellfish lease applications for waters from Bogue Sound south until the division can fully assess safety concerns and other regulatory needs. The commission asked for a report on this issue at its May 2018 meeting. Division Director Steve Murphey told the commission he would seek legal counsel to see if the division has authority for these actions.
  • Approve a recreational cobia season of May 1 to Dec. 31, with a limit for private vessels of one fish per person, up to two fish per vessel from May 1 to May 31 and one fish per vessel June 1 through Dec. 31; the limit for for-hire vessels would be one fish per person up to four fish per vessel May 1 through Dec. 31. All measures include a 36-inch fork length minimum size limit. These management measures must be reviewed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Cobia Technical Committee and approved by the South Atlantic State/Federal Management Board.
  • Ask the Division of Marine Fisheries to draft rules to make tarpon a no spear, no gaff and no possession fish.
  • Ask Governor Roy Cooper to examine the current membership of the Marine Fisheries Commission and, if need be, make changes to ensure the commission functions as intended.


Release: Immediate
Contact: Patricia Smith
Date: Feb. 13, 2018
Phone: 252-726-7021

New buoys going on estuarine artificial reefs
and oyster sanctuaries 

MOREHEAD CITY — Anglers who fish on artificial reefs and oyster sanctuaries in the rivers and sounds will notice some changes to the buoys this spring.

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Artificial Reef Program and Oyster Sanctuary Program is replacing the buoys used to mark reef sites in estuarine waters.

The new buoys are white, 13 inches in diameter, with the word “REEF” displayed above an orange diamond (see example here).

Buoys marking oyster sanctuaries will also display “OYSTER SANCTUARY” on the sides. These new buoys will replace the yellow U.S. Coast Guard Class IV and Class V buoys used until now.

The new buoys are smaller and lighter than those historically employed, but sufficient for use in the sounds and rivers. This will allow staff to service them using smaller vessels, freeing the larger vessel for other shellfish rehabilitation projects.

The buoy replacement operation is expected to be completed by March 1.

An artificial reef is a manmade underwater structure, typically built to promote marine life in areas with a generally featureless bottom. In North Carolina, they serve as crucial spawning and foraging habitat for many commercially and recreationally important fish species.

The division maintains 43 ocean artificial reefs and 25 estuarine reefs. Fifteen of the estuarine reefs serve as oyster sanctuaries. Ocean reefs are located from one-half mile to 38 miles from shore and are situated so that they can be reached from every maintained inlet in the state.

Anglers, divers or boaters needing more information should contact Jason Peters, division artificial reef coordinator, at 252-808-8063 or


Release: Immediate
Contact: Patricia Smith
Date: Feb. 5, 2018
Phone: 252-726-7021

N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission to meet
Feb. 14-15 in Wrightsville Beach

MOREHEAD CITY — The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission will meet Feb. 14-15 at the Blockade Runner, 275 Waynick Blvd., Wrightsville Beach.

The meeting will begin at 2 p.m. Feb. 14 and 8:30 a.m. Feb. 15.

A public comment period will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 14. Members of the public may speak to the commission on any fisheries-related topic. The chairman will allow each speaker to comment for up to three minutes. No other public comment period is slated for this meeting.

The deadline for submitting written comments to the commission, including email, through the Marine Fisheries Commission Office, is Feb. 9. Those who wish to forego this process and give handouts to the commission during the public comment period should bring at least 12 copies of the handout.

The meeting agenda includes:

  • Voting on committee recommended changes to eligibility requirements for commercial fishing licenses (any changes will require legislative approval);
  • A report on a Southeast Regional Southern Flounder Stock Assessment;
  • A presentation on potential solutions to address shellfish lease conflicts; and
  • An update on analysis and recommendations for the striped mullet fishery.

A meeting agenda and briefing book materials can be found here.

The public may listen to the meeting on the Internet. Up to 200 participants may listen to audio and view presentations in real-time on a first-come, first-served basis. Directions for participating in the webcast, including information on system requirements and testing, can be found here. Following the meeting, an audio recording will be posted online.

For more information, contact Nancy Fish in the Marine Fisheries Commission office at 252-808-8021 or


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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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