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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - 04 2016 NR Archives

Marine Fisheries

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Release: Immediate
Date: April 27, 2016
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

State marine fisheries agency to memorialize former
artificial reef coordinator by sinking two vessels

MOREHEAD CITY — The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will memorialize former Artificial Reef Coordinator Jim Francesconi by sinking two ships in his honor next week. Francesconi, who began working for the division in 1987, headed the Artificial Reef Program for 14 years before losing a battle with leukemia on July 18, 2014.

The division has contracted to sink the vessels on Howard Chapin Reef (AR 330), off Beaufort Inlet. This could occur as early as Monday, weather permitting.

The largest vessel, a 108-foot retired U.S. Army tugboat, has been renamed the James J. Francesconi and adorned with his name in steel letters on the forward portion of the wheel house. The second vessel, The Tramp, is a 65-foot retired New York Harbor tugboat, which will be sunk in-line with, and tethered to, the James J. Francesconi.

The vessels will be reefed near the northwest corner of the reef site in approximately 63 feet of water. Once settled, the vessels will be oriented in a northeast-southwest fashion. In accordance with Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Corps of Engineers regulations, the vessels have been cleaned of environmental pollutants and will have no impact on navigational clearance.

Francesconi’s efforts for the division resulted in hundreds of enhancements to artificial reefs from the Outer Banks to Long Bay, including the creation of the New River Reef (AR-398) near Jacksonville, the Jim Knight Reef (AR-430) near Oak Island and the Bob Black Reef (AR-400) near Frying Pan Tower. He also oversaw the sinking of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter SPAR, the Tug Titan, the Captain Greg Mickey, the Tug Pawtucket, the Admiral Charlie, and two U.S. Coast Guard Falcon aircraft. 

Following Francesconi’s death, several diving and fishing organizations began a grass roots effort to raise money for a ship to sink in his name. Donations came in from the Long Bay Artificial Reef Association ($13,993), the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament ($7,000), the Eastern Carolina Artificial Reef Association ($1,650) and a GoFundMe site ($11,223.97) that included large donations from the Scherle Family, the Francesconi Family, Rum Runner Dive Shop, Olympus Dive Center and the Gilman Corporation.

Additional funding came from the sale of SCUBA license plates ($77,790) and the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Conservation Fund ($6,997).

In all, $118,653.97 was raised for the project, which has an estimated price tag of approximately $117,000.

Eternal Reefs Inc. donated two Eternal Reef Balls and commemorative plaques, which will be mounted to the deck of the James J. Francesconi vessel. 

The division has limited vessel space available for news media wishing to cover the event. Media representatives should contact Patricia Smith, public information officer for the division, at 252-808-8025 by noon Friday, April 29 for details. News media will be selected on a first-come, first-serve basis.

For safety, private vessels near the site will be asked to keep 300 feet back from the operation.


Release: Immediate
Date: April 26, 2016
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

State fisheries agency conducting economic and social survey with
commercial fishermen

MOREHEAD CITY — Commercial fishermen who fish in the Atlantic Ocean off of North Carolina may receive a questionnaire in the mail or by phone call in the coming weeks and months for a N.C Division of Marine Fisheries survey.

The division plans to contact approximately 300 fishermen between now and August and ask them information about their fishing activity, perceptions, fishing expenses and demographics. The information gathered in the survey will be used to improve the state’s estimates of the economic impacts of commercial fishing and the effects of fishing regulations. It will also assist managers in making informed decisions on fisheries topics.

Fishermen will be asked questions about the species they commonly target, the gears they use, their business structure, their average trip and annual fishing expenses, demographic information, such as education, age, and household income, as well as their opinions on fishery conflicts and regulations and their reliance on commercial fishing.

Individual answers to questions will be kept strictly confidential; however, the cumulative results from all survey participants will be included in a written report that will be made available to the public.

A fisherman who receives such a call can verify that the person calling is working with the division on this survey by asking the caller to verify his or her participant identification number (PID). This number is located on the bottom left corner of all North Carolina commercial fishing licenses.

It is very important that fishermen participate in the survey and answer as many questions as possible for the survey results to truly represent those who fish commercially in the Atlantic Ocean off of North Carolina. The results of the survey are taken very seriously and often guide fisheries managers in making rules that affect fishing activities within the survey area.

For more information, contact John Hadley, division socio-economics program manager, at 252-808-8107 or


Release: Immediate
Date: April 19, 2016
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

Elizabeth City and Washington license offices closing for lunch

MOREHEAD CITY — Due to a temporary shortage of personnel, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries license offices in Elizabeth City and Washington will close daily for lunch. This schedule will be in effect until further notice.

A license position in each of the offices recently became vacant, leaving no backup for lunch, which typically runs from noon to 1 p.m. The vacancies could potentially cause unexpected office closures should the remaining staff call in sick or need to be off for other reasons.

The division will make every effort to run these offices on a normal schedule, but temporary closings may be necessary until a backup from another office can arrive.

Those who wish to visit one of these license offices should call ahead to ensure the license office is open. The numbers for the Elizabeth City office are 252-264-3911 or 800-338-7805; the numbers for the Washington office are 252-946-6481 or 800-338-7804.

Those who need to purchase a recreational fishing license or vessel registration can do so at the nearest Wildlife Agent. A list of these agents can be found at Recreational fishing licenses may also be purchased online at the same web address.

Commercial fishermen may renew their licenses at any of the other Division of Marine Fisheries license offices or through the mail. License applications and renewal forms can be downloaded from the division website at

Customers may also call 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632 for more information, license questions or to request an application by mail.

For more information, contact division License and Statistics Section Chief Don Hesselman at 252-808-8099 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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