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Marine Fisheries - 05 2016 NR Archives

Marine Fisheries

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News Release Archives — May 2016


Release: Immediate
Date: May 31, 2016
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

Marine Fisheries adds public comment to Joint Law
Enforcement Agreement Advisory Group meeting agenda

MOREHEAD CITY — The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has added a public comment period to the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting of the Joint Law Enforcement Agreement Advisory Group. The meeting begins at 5 p.m. at the Craven County Agricultural Center, 300 Industrial Drive, New Bern.

Public comment will be accepted at the end of the meeting. A meeting agenda is attached.

Members of the public may also comment in writing as to whether the state should enter into a joint law enforcement agreement with the federal government. Written comments may be sent to Marine Patrol Capt. Steve Anthony at Steve.Anthony@ncdenr.gov or at P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557. Comments must be received by the division by 5 p.m. July 1 to be considered as part of the study.

The division is conducting a 12-month study to determine the possible impacts, costs and benefits of a joint law enforcement agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service, and whether the N.C. General Assembly should authorize the division to enter into an agreement. The division is required, by law, to submit findings of a study on this topic to the General Assembly by Oct. 15. Consultation with an advisory group is part of this process.

In a joint enforcement agreement, the N.C. Marine Patrol would contract with the National Marine Fisheries Service Office of Law Enforcement to supplement and enhance federal fisheries law enforcement capabilities. The agreement would be accompanied by an enforcement plan in which both the state and federal agencies agree to a list of priorities and activities to be enforced by state officers. In return, the Marine Patrol would receive monetary compensation and training about federal regulations.

A joint enforcement agreement also would allow Marine Patrol officers to charge fishermen with minor federal offenses, and adjudicate those charges through state district court.

For more information, contact Marine Patrol Col. Jim Kelley at 252-808-8130 or Jim.M.Kelley@ncdenr.gov.

nr-41-201


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

Marine Fisheries Commission adopts stricter blue crab regulations

MOREHEAD CITY — The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission adopted stricter blue crab regulations at its meeting last week. The measures are meant to improve the condition of the state’s blue crab stock.

Commercial and recreational crabbers should expect most of the regulations to take effect in early June.

The commission voted to:

  • Require one additional escape ring (two are currently required) in crab pots, and one of the three rings must be located within one full mesh of the corner of the pot and within one full mesh of the bottom of the apron/stairs (divider) of the upper chamber of the pot.
  • Eliminate the harvest of v-apron immature female hard crabs (excluding peeler crabs); and include v-apron immature female hard crabs in the culling tolerance (the tolerance currently includes only sublegal male and immature female hard crabs).
  • Prohibit harvest of dark sponge crabs (brown and black) from April 1-April 30 each year; and include dark sponge crabs in the culling tolerance.
  • Lower the culling tolerance from 10 percent to 5 percent for all crabs, except mature females.
  • Prohibit crab harvest with dredges, except incidental to lawful oyster dredging as outlined in North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission Rule 15A NCAC 03L .0203(a)(2).

The Division of Marine Fisheries will issue proclamations to implement the regulatory changes. All of the regulatory changes except the escape ring requirement will take effect June 6; the escape ring requirement will not take effect until Jan. 15, 2017 to allow fishermen to make this gear modification during an annual crab pot closure.

The management action was required under Amendment 2 to the N.C. Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan, adopted by the commission in November 2013. The plan uses an adaptive management framework that requires annual evaluation of a Blue Crab Traffic Light, which consists of three biological indicators. If the indicators meet pre-determined thresholds, management changes are required. The annual evaluation this year found that a management threshold was exceeded.

In other business, the commission:

  • Approved draft amendments to the Oyster and Hard Clam Fishery Management Plans for departmental and legislative review.
  • Directed division staff to meet with Wildlife Resources Commission staff, and bring joint recommendations to the August meeting to address problems with striped bass reproduction in the Neuse and Tar rivers; to expedite analysis of fin clip data on samples the division currently has; and to provide a method of determining if the native strain of striped bass still exists in the Neuse and Tar rivers.
  • Requested that the Conservation Fund Committee meet within 30 days to consider funding DNA testing of striped bass fin clips.
  • Requested that the division include crab pots in its blue crab sampling gear.
  • Requested that the division include various gears used by commercial fishermen in various areas in stock assessment sampling, and, when possible, work with commercial and recreational fishermen in the sampling process.
  • Requested that the commission chair send letters and emails to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council chair and members expressing the commission’s support for including little tunny (false albacore) and Atlantic bonito in the list of Eco-system Component Species; and express the commission’s support for Alternative 2B of the Unmanaged Forage Omnibus Amendment to designate unmanaged forage species as Eco-system Component Species, and implement an incidental possession limit with a 1,700 pounds total cap and a 1,500 cap on individual species.

nr-40-2016


Release: Immediate
Date: May 25, 2016
Contact: Guy DuBeck or Karyl Brewster-Geisz
Phone: 301-427-8503

NOAA Fisheries Announces the Closure of the Commercial Fisheries
for Blacknose Sharks and Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks in the
Atlantic Region South of 34° N. Latitude on May 29, 2016

Commercial shark dealer reports received as of May 23, 2016, indicate that landings for commercial Atlantic blacknose sharks are projected to exceed 80 percent of the available quota by May 27, 2016. Specifically, dealer reports indicate that 9.3 mt dw or 59 percent of the available Atlantic blacknose shark quota had been landed and 31.5 mt dw or 12 percent of the available Atlantic non-blacknose small coastal shark (SCS) quota had been landed. Because the quota for blacknose sharks is linked to the quota for non-blacknose SCS south of 34° N. lat., as required by the regulations at 50 CFR 635.28(b)(3), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is closing the commercial fisheries for both blacknose sharks and non-blacknose SCSin the Atlantic region south of 34° N. lat. as of 11:30 p.m. local time May 29, 2016. From the effective date and time of the closure until and if NMFS announces via a notice in the Federal Register that additional quota is available and the season is reopened, these species groups will remain closed, even across fishing years. All other shark species or management groups that are currently open in the Atlantic region will remain open, including the commercial Atlantic non-blacknose SCS management group north of 34° N. lat.

During the closure, retention of blacknose sharks and non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic regionsouth of 34° N. lat. is prohibited for persons fishing aboard vessels issued a commercial shark limited access permit (LAP) under 50 CFR 635.4. However, persons aboard a commercially permitted vessel that is also properly permitted to operate as a charter vessel or headboat for highly migratory species (HMS) and is engaged in a for-hire trip could fish under the recreational retention limits for sharks and "no sale" provisions (50 CFR 635.22(a) and (c)). During this closure, a shark dealer issued a permit pursuant to § 635.4 may not purchase or receive blacknose sharks or non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic region from a vessel issued a shark LAP, except that a permitted shark dealer or processor may possess blacknose sharks and/or non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic regionsouth of 34° N. lat. that were harvested, off-loaded, and sold, traded, or bartered prior to the effective date of the closure and were held in storage consistent with 50 CFR 635.28(b)(6) and non-blacknose SCS that were harvested in the Atlantic regionnorth of 34° N. lat. Similarly, a shark dealer issued a permit pursuant to 50 CFR 635.4 may, in accordance with relevant state regulations, may purchase or receive blacknose sharks and/or non-blacknose SCS in the Atlantic region if the sharks were harvested, off-loaded, and sold, traded, or bartered from a vessel that fishes only in state waters and that has not been issued a Shark LAP, HMS Angling permit, or HMS Charter/Headboat permit pursuant to 50 CFR 635.4.

This notice is a courtesy to the HMS fishery participants to help keep you informed about the fishery. For further information on landings updates or this closure, contact Guy DuBeck or Karyl Brewster-Geisz at 301-427-8503. The information will also be posted on the HMS website at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/

noaa-052516


Release: Immediate
Date: May 25, 2016
Contact: Sustainable Fisheries
Phone: 727-824-5305

Commercial Harvest of Gray Triggerfish in South Atlantic Federal Waters
will Reopen on June 13, 2016

Commercial harvest of gray triggerfish in South Atlantic federal waters will reopen beginning 12:01 a.m. (local time) on June 13, 2016 until 12:01 a.m. (local time) July 1, 2016. The July through December fishing season reopens at 12:01 a.m. (local time) on July 1, 1016. A commercial trip limit of 1,000 pounds whole weight is in place for commercial harvest of gray triggerfish.

A split fishing season has been established for commercial gray triggerfish which allocates 50 percent of the catch limit to January 1 through June 30, and 50 percent to July 1 through December 31. As a result, the commercial catch limit is divided into two equal seasonal catch limits of 156,162 pounds whole weight. NOAA Fisheries closed commercial harvest of gray triggerfish on April 2, 2016, as it was projected the January through June catch limit would be reached on that date. However, a landings update indicates the gray triggerfish catch limit has not yet been met and commercial harvest may reopen. If the commercial catch limit for the July through December 2016 season is projected to be met, NOAA Fisheries will announce the closure date.

FB16-036


Release: Immediate
Date: May 25, 2016
Contact: Sustainable Fisheries
Phone: 727-824-5305

Commercial Harvest of Blueline Tilefish in South Atlantic Federal Waters
Will Close on June 1, 2016

Commercial harvest of blueline tilefish in federal waters of the South Atlantic will close at 12:01 a.m. (local time) June 1, 2016. The 2016 commercial annual catch limit is 26,766 pounds whole weight. Updated landings data indicate that commercial harvest of blueline tilefish will likely reach the annual catch limit by that date. As a result, commercial harvest will be closed in federal waters of the South Atlantic.
 
The operator of a vessel that has been issued a valid federal commercial permit for snapper-grouper and having blueline tilefish on board must have landed and bartered, traded, or sold such blueline tilefish prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, June 1, 2016. The prohibition on sale or purchase does not apply to sale or purchase of blueline tilefish that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to 12:01 a.m. (local time) June 1, 2016, and held in cold storage by a dealer or processor.

During the closure:

  • Sale or purchase of blueline tilefish in or from federal waters in the South Atlantic is prohibited.
  • Harvest or possession of blueline tilefish in or from federal waters in the South Atlantic is limited to the recreational bag and possession limits when the recreational sector is open.
  • These bag and possession limits apply in the South Atlantic on board a vessel for which a valid federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit for South Atlantic snapper grouper has been issued without regard to where such species were harvested, i.e., in state or federal waters.

Note: The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council has approved an action in Regulatory Amendment 25 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Regulatory Amendment 25) to increase the 2016 commercial annual catch limit for blueline tilefish from 26,766 pounds whole weight to 87,521 pounds whole weight. The proposed rule is currently under review. If approved, regulations increasing the commercial annual catch limit for blueline tilefish could be implemented later this year, and the commercial fishery would reopen. For more information on Regulatory Amendment 25, please see http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/2015/reg_am25/index.html.

FB16-035

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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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