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Marine Fisheries - 07 2015 News Release Archives

Marine Fisheries

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Release: Immediate
Date: July 17, 2015
Contact: Karla Gore
Phone: 727-824-5305
Email: karla.gore@noaa.gov

NOAA Fisheries Announces Final Rule to Expand Boundaries of
Habitat Areas of Particular Concern and to Modify Transit Provisions

On July 17, 2015, NOAA Fisheries published a final rule (80 FR 42423) to implement Amendment 8 to the Fishery Management Plan for Coral, Coral Reefs, and Live/Hardbottom Habitats of the South Atlantic Region (Coral Amendment 8). Regulations will be effective on August 17, 2015.

The amendment extends protections for deepwater coral ecosystems by expanding the boundaries of the Oculina Bank Habitat Area of Particular Concern, and the Stetson-Miami Terrace and Cape Lookout Coral Habitat Areas of Particular Concern.

Within Habitat Areas of Particular Concern, the use of bottom longline, bottom trawl, dredge, pot or trap is prohibited. If aboard a fishing vessel, anchor, use of anchor and chain, and grapple and chain is prohibited. Mid-water trawls are also prohibited in Stetson-Miami Terrace and Cape Lookout Coral Habitat Areas of Particular Concern.

Coral Amendment 8 also implements a transit provision through Oculina Bank Habitat Area of Particular Concern for fishing vessels with rock shrimp onboard. When traveling through the area, vessels are required to have gear appropriately stowed and maintain a minimum speed of five knots. Vessel speed is determined by a vessel monitoring system registering a ping (signal) at a rate of 1 ping per 5 minutes.

More Information
For more information on Coral Amendment 8, please click on this link to the Frequently Asked Questions found at: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/coral/2014/am8/index.html.

Maps of the revised Coral Habitat Areas of Particular Concern can be found on our website at: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/maps_gis_data/fisheries/s_atlantic/index.html.

This bulletin serves as a Small Entity Compliance Guide, complying with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996.

This bulletin provides only a summary of the information regarding the existing regulations. Any discrepancies between this bulletin and the regulations as published in the Federal Register will be resolved in favor of the Federal Register.

Consider signing up for fishery bulletins via email.

To receive fishery bulletins electronically, via email, you must sign up through Constant Contact. Constant Contact is an internet-based distribution service. This service allows you to subscribe or unsubscribe at any time. The electronic copy of the bulletin will be delivered to you faster than the paper copy, is in color, features informational links, and reduces paper use.

To receive fishery bulletins via email using Constant Contact, please sign up at http://bit.ly/HQDUEU. You may also sign up for Constant Contact by visiting our Web site http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov(sign-up option is located on the left side of the page).

FB15-053


Release: Immediate
Date: July 1, 2015
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries releases annual stock status report

MOREHEAD CITY — Five North Carolina coastal fish species were reclassified as viable by the 2015 Stock Status Report released today by the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.

The report also reclassified the status of three other species and removed one species from the report. Reclassifications are based on updated information through 2014.

The division annually classifies the status of important marine finfish, shellfish, shrimp and crabs as viable, recovering, concern, depleted or unknown. The classifications serve as a barometer of the overall health of the state’s fishery resources, and they are used to prioritize development of state fishery management plans.

Definitions for each stock status category can be found at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/stock-status-categories-and-definitions.

Atlantic menhaden
Atlantic menhaden moved from concern to viable based on a Southeast Data, Assessment and Review 2015 benchmark stock assessment that indicates that Atlantic menhaden are neither overfished nor experiencing overfishing.

Overfished means the population size is too small. Overfishing means the annual catch rate is too high.

Black drum
Black drum moved from unknown to viable based on a 2015 Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Black Drum Stock Assessment that determined that the stock is not overfished and not experiencing overfishing.

Kingfishes
Kingfishes moved from unknown to viable based on positive trends in biological data, as a regional stock assessment is not currently available.

King mackerel
King mackerel moved from concern to viable based on the 2014 South Atlantic Fishery Management Council stock assessment that indicates the South Atlantic king mackerel stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring.

Spotted seatrout
Spotted seatrout moved from depleted to viable based on a 2014 N.C. Spotted Seatrout Stock Assessment that indicates the North Carolina and Virginia stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring.

Black sea bass north of Hatteras
Black sea bass north of Hatteras moved from recovering to concern due to the lack of a recent approved stock assessment and recent low landings in North Carolina waters. The stock was declared rebuilt in 2009 based on the 2008 National Marine Fisheries Service’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center stock assessment for U.S. waters north of Cape Hatteras. Due to unique life history characteristics and other data concerns, the 2011 and 2012 assessments were not accepted for determining stock status.

Southern flounder
Southern flounder was moved from depleted to concern due to the lack of a recent approved stock assessment. A 2014 stock assessment of southern flounder in North Carolina waters could not be used to determine stock status because the southern flounder stock mixes throughout the South Atlantic (North Carolina to Florida). However, concerns exist about the sustainability of current harvest levels because of a coast-wide decline in juvenile and adult abundance.

Gag
Gag moved from concern to recovering based on a 2014 South Atlantic Fishery Management Council regional stock assessment that found the stock from North Carolina to Florida was experiencing overfishing, but was not overfished. The National Marine Fisheries Service removed the stock from the overfishing list in December 2014 after determining that harvest levels in 2012 and 2013 indicated overfishing was no longer occurring.

Monkfish
Monkfish was removed from the N.C. Stock Status Report due to the limited fishery in North Carolina. In 2014, commercial landings of monkfish were low and there were no reported recreational landings.

The complete 2015 Stock Status Report can be found on the division’s website at: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/stock-status-reports

For more information, contact division Fisheries Biologist Lee Paramore at 252-473-5734, ext. 222 or Lee.Paramore@ncdenr.gov

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