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Marine Fisheries - 09 2015 NR Archives

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News Release Archives - September 2015


Release: Immediate
Date: Sept. 28, 2015
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

Many coastal waters reopen to large-mesh gill nets Wednesday

MOREHEAD CITY — Many coastal waters of the state will reopen to anchored, large-mesh gill nets at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The waters, mostly closed in June due to interactions with sea turtles, are reopening now because of recent northeast winds, cooling water temperatures and reports of reduced turtle sightings. However, the waters could close again if interactions with sea turtles are observed.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Director Louis Daniel issued proclamations today to reopen waters to anchored large-mesh gill nets in the following waters:

  • The eastern portion of Management Unit A, including Albemarle, Croatan and Roanoke sounds and their tributaries.
  • Portions of Management Unit B, including the shallow waters of Pamlico Sound and the northern portion of Core Sound down to the Club House on Core Banks.
  • Management Unit E, which includes internal waters between the N.C. 58 bridge to Emerald Isle and the South Carolina state line.

Waters that were already open, and remain so are:

  • Management Unit D-2, including the Newport River and Bogue Sound.
  • The western portion of Management Unit A, including Currituck Sound.

The following management units remain closed:

  • Management Unit C, including the Pamlico, Pungo, Bay and Neuse rivers and their tributaries, which closed to anchored, large-mesh gill nets Sept. 24 due to interactions with Atlantic sturgeon. These waters will remain closed to large-mesh gill nets until Dec. 1 under the state’s Atlantic Sturgeon Incidental Take Permit.
  • Management Unit D-1, including southern Core Sound, Back Sound and the North River, which remains closed until Oct. 15 under the Sea Turtle Incidental Take Permit.
  • The deep-water areas of Pamlico Sound in Management Unit B, remain closed to large-mesh gill nets until Dec. 15 due to a federal closure to reduce sea turtle interactions.

For specific boundaries of the open and closed areas, as well as other regulations, see Proclamations M-16-2015 and M-17-2015 at http://www.ncmarinefisheries.net/proclamations.

North Carolina’s estuarine gill net fishery is managed under incidental take permits for sea turtles and Atlantic sturgeon, issued to the state by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The permits require observer coverage. The permits authorize limited takes of these species, listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, as part of conservation plans that divide the state’s internal coastal waters into six management units. These units are closely monitored for interactions with sea turtles and Atlantic sturgeon. An annual number of allowed interactions with each species is assigned to each gear type in each management unit. If the number of interactions is approached, the management unit must close for the remainder of the season or year.

For more information, contact Chris Batsavage, the division’s Protected Resources Section chief, at 252-808-8009 or 252-241-2995 or Chris.Batsavage@ncdenr.gov.

nr-39-2015


Release: Immediate
Date: Sept. 8, 2015
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

Pamlico, Pungo, Neuse and Bay rivers to close to anchored,
large-mesh gill nets

MOREHEAD CITY — Some rivers and creeks in the central coastal area of North Carolina will close to anchored, large-mesh gill nets at 5 p.m. Thursday due to interactions with Atlantic sturgeon.

The action closes Management Unit C under the state’s Atlantic Sturgeon Incidental Take Permit, which includes the Pamlico, Pungo, Neuse and Bay rivers and their tributaries. The closure impacts all anchored, large-mesh gill nets, including those set under a Recreational Commercial Gear License.

The closure will remain in effect until Dec. 1.

This marks the first management unit closure in North Carolina resulting from interactions with Atlantic sturgeon under the incidental take permit since July 2014.

The action is required by the incidental take permit, which allows for anchored, large-mesh gill net interactions with six Atlantic sturgeon, only two of which can be dead, in Management Unit C during the fall season (Sept. 1- Nov. 30). Once the allowed interactions are approached or met, the waters must close for the remainder of the season.

As of today, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ staff have observed four live and one dead Atlantic sturgeon interactions with anchored, large-mesh gill nets in Management Unit C. The figures that state officials have observed are approaching the legal limit for these kinds of interactions in Management Unit C.

For details of the closure, see Proclamation M-15-2015 at http://www.ncmarinefisheries.net/proclamations.

North Carolina’s estuarine gill net fishery is managed under incidental take permits for sea turtles and Atlantic sturgeon. The permits are issued to the state by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The permits authorize limited takes of these species, listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, as part of conservation plans that divide the state’s internal coastal waters into management units. The permits require observer coverage, so that the management units are closely monitored for interactions with sea turtles and Atlantic sturgeon. An annual number of allowed interactions with each species is assigned to each gear type in each management unit. If the number of interactions is approached or met, the management unit must close for the remainder of the season or year.

For more information, contact Chris Batsavage, the division’s Protected Resources Section chief, at 252-808-8009 or 252-241-2995, or via email at Chris.Batsavage@ncdenr.gov.

nr-38-2015


Release: Immediate
Date: Sept. 16, 2015
Contact: NOAA
Phone: 727-824-5305

Commercial Harvest of Snowy Grouper and Vermilion Snapper
Will Close on September 22, 2015 in South Atlantic Waters

Commercial harvest of snowy grouper and vermilion snapper in South Atlantic waters will close, at 12:01 a.m. (local time) on September 22, 2015.

Snowy Grouper
The commercial sector of snowy grouper was closed on June 30, 2015, because the catch limit was met. On August 20, 2015, the final rule for Regulatory Amendment 20 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region increased the catch limit to 115,451 pounds gutted weight. Reports indicate the revised catch limit will be met by September 22, 2015. Commercial harvest will reopen at 12:01 a.m. (local time) on January 1, 2016.

Vermilion Snapper
The 2015 July-December commercial catch limit of vermilion snapper is 438,260 pounds whole weight. Reports indicate the catch limit will be met by September 22, 2015. Commercial harvest will reopen at 12:01 a.m. (local time) on January 1, 2016.

The operator of a vessel with a federal commercial permit for snapper-grouper that is landing snowy grouper or vermilion snapper for sale must have landed and bartered, traded, or sold such snowy grouper and vermilion snapper prior to 12:01 a.m. (local time), September 22, 2015. The prohibition on sale does not apply to sale or purchase of snowy grouper or vermilion snapper that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to 12:01 a.m. (local time), September 22, 2015, and held in cold storage by a dealer or processor.

During the closure:

  • Harvest or possession of snowy grouper or vermilion snapper is limited to the recreational bag and possession limits.
  • Sale or purchase of snowy grouper or vermilion snapper is prohibited.
  • The prohibition on sale or purchase does not apply to the sale or purchase of snowy grouper or vermilion snapper that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, September 22, 2015, and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor.

The closure applies in both state and federal waters for a vessel with a federal commercial permit for snapper-grouper.

These closures are necessary to protect the snapper-grouper fishery.

FB15-068


Release: Immediate
Date: Sept. 8, 2015
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

Two Marine Patrol officers to receive honors

MOREHEAD CITY – Two N.C. Marine Patrol officers will be honored as officers of the year by separate entities in the coming days.

Officer Jonathan Weaver will receive the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award Sept. 17 during the full council meeting in Hilton Head, S.C.

Officer Justin Lott will receive the Governor's Conservation Achievement Awards Program’s 2015 Marine Fisheries Enforcement Officer of the Year award at the Annual Governor’s Awards Banquet Sept. 12 in Cary.

Weaver said he is very humbled by this honor.

“It makes me feel proud to be recognized for the work I do,” Weaver said.

Lott, too, called his recognition an honor.

“Even being nominated was a big pat on my back,” Lott said.

Jonathan Weaver

Weaver began working with Marine Patrol in August 2008, He is stationed in Brunswick County and patrols the Oak Island and Holden Beach areas.

Among his colleagues, Weaver is known for developing cases on fisheries violations through careful inspection of fisherman-to-dealer sales records. Most notably, in February 2014, he discovered a bandit boat selling fish without the proper licenses.

This case resulted in the seizure of 1,022 pounds of snapper and grouper species, sold under court order for $3,428. Through further investigation, Weaver discovered five other unlawful sales of snapper and grouper species by the same fisherman totaling 4,906 pounds. The fisherman was charged and convicted of selling fish without a commercial fishing license. Additionally, the fisherman and the dealer were assessed and paid civil penalties, totaling $3,500.

Weaver is also known for exceeding expectations with assignments, whether it be an investigation, training less experienced officers or dealing with the public.

“His candor and sense of humor as well as hard working attitude make him well liked and respected by his peers and supervisors,” said Marine Patrol Capt. Jason Walker.

Raised in Abington, Penn. near Philadelphia, and graduated from Abington High School in 1991. He then earned a degree in communications from Elon College in 1995.

At that time he didn’t know what direction his life would take.

“I always wanted a career where I could work outside and have the opportunity to help people,” Weaver said.

In 1997, his life took him into law enforcement. He worked 11 years with the Burlington Police Department in Alamance County before following fellow Burlington police officers to Marine Patrol.

“I enjoy the variety of work that we can do and the variety of environments we get to work in and the ability to develop a case and follow it through to its completion,” Weaver said.

Weaver lives in Boiling Springs Lakes with his wife, Jennifer, and their two children.

Justin Lott

Lott began working for Marine Patrol in September 2011. He is stationed in Dare County and patrols the beaches from Kitty Hawk to the Virginia state line, as well as Currituck Sound.

Lott regularly investigates and solves cases involving recreational and commercial fishing violations, such as illegal sales of seafood, over limit possession of marine species, harvest of undersized shellfish and possession of prohibited marine species. Often these cases involve all night boat patrols and lengthy investigation and research while working jointly with other fisheries law enforcement agencies.

“He is a professional with a great attitude, morals and ethics and has gained the respect of his co-workers and the fishing community,” said Marine Patrol Sgt. Brian Long. “He regularly goes out of his way to help the fishing public by answering questions, giving advice and even taking a family picture for people who ask it of him while he is patrolling the beach.”

In fact, Lott said working with the public is one of his favorite things about being a Marine Patrol officer, especially when he works at educational events.

Lott moved to Morganton when he was 12, but spent his early childhood on a cattle ranch in Twin Bridges, Montana. His family often vacationed on the East Coast visiting national parks. This upbringing instilled in him a love for nature.

He was also influenced by his stepfather, a retired sheriff’s deputy, and several role models from his church were local law enforcement officers.

After graduating from Freedom High School in Morganton in 2005, he received a degree in fisheries and wildlife science from N.C. State University in 2010.

“I knew I wanted to be in natural resources law enforcement,” Lott said.

Lott is single and lives in Kill Devil Hills.


The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council award acknowledges service above and beyond duty requirements, recognizes distinctive service, professionalism and dedication to enforcing fisheries regulations in the South Atlantic region.

The Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards, presented by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, honor individuals, associations, businesses and others who have exhibited unwavering commitment to conservation in North Carolina.

Contact Weaver for comment at 910-796-7220 or Jonathan.Weaver@ncdenr.gov. Contact Lott for comment at 252-473-1233 or Justin.Lott@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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