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Marine Fisheries - 11 2016 NR Archives

Marine Fisheries

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News Release Archives — November 2016

Release: Immediate
Date: Nov. 21, 2016
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

Chairman to allow public comment
on petition that would impact shrimp trawling

MOREHEAD CITY – The chairman of the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission said he intends to allow public comment on a petition for rulemaking calling for habitat protections that, if adopted, would impact shrimp trawl fishing in most North Carolina waters.

The petition was submitted Nov. 2 by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, and the commission has 120 days from that date to grant or deny the request.

Chairman Sammy Corbett outlined the petition review procedure at the commission’s business meeting last week.

First, the petition must be deemed complete. Under state law, a person may petition any agency or commission to adopt or change a rule by submitting a written rulemaking petition that contains the proposed text of the requested rule change and a statement of the effect of the requested rule change. Commission rules require additional information.

If the petition is deemed complete, Corbett said he intends to take public comment through the commission’s advisory committees, possibly at a joint advisory committee meeting similar to one held in 2013 on a similar petition.

The commission will then discuss and vote on the petition at its February meeting.

The petition asks the commission to designate all coastal fishing waters (including the ocean out to three miles) not otherwise designated as nursery areas as special secondary nursery areas; establish clear criteria for the opening of shrimp season; and define the type of gear and how and when gear may be used in special secondary nursery areas during shrimp season.

Specific requests of the petition include limiting shrimp trawling to three days a week in the daytime only, limiting the total trawl head rope to 90 feet, limiting tow times to 45 minutes, and opening the Pamlico Sound shrimp season based on a count of 60 shrimp per pound, heads on.

In other business, the commission voted to:

  • Send a letter from the full commission endorsing changes in the criteria for receiving a Standard Commercial Fishing License in North Carolina, which is the main license required for a fisherman to commercial fish and sell his catch. Recommended changes include limiting this license to full-time commercial fishermen and creating part-time and heritage commercial fishing licenses for other purposes.

  • Forward the names of Dewey Hemilright, Chris Hickman, Jeff Oden and Brent Fulcher to the Governor’s Office for consideration for nominees to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council obligatory seat.

  • Authorize the issuance of a proclamation to prohibit gill nets within 200 feet of a specific dock in the Martin’s Point area of Currituck Sound to address a user conflict. The commission also authorized further proclamations prohibiting gill nets within 200 feet of docks in a 2 ½-mile area of southern Currituck Sound from Martins Point to Wright Memorial Bridge should other user conflicts occur.


Release: Immediate
Contact: Tina Berger
Date: Nov. 18, 2016
Phone: 703-842-0740

Please disregard previous email which lacked the details of the Va. hearing.

South Atlantic States Schedule Public Hearings on
Cobia Public Information Document

Arlington, Va. — The South Atlantic states of Virginia through Florida have scheduled their hearings to gather public comment on the Public Information Document (PID) for the Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Cobia. The details of the scheduled hearings follow.

Virginia Marine Resources Commission
December 6, 2016; 6 p.m.
2600 Washington Ave, 4th Floor
Newport News, Va. 23607
Contact: Joe Cimino at 757-247-2236

North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries

December 8, 2016; 6 p.m.
Doubletree by Hilton Atlantic Beach
2717 West Fort Macon Road
Atlantic Beach, N.C.
Contact: Michelle Duval at 252-808-8011

December 15, 2016; 5 p.m.
Dare County Government Administration Building
Room 168
954 Marshall C. Collins Drive
Manteo, N.C.
Contact: Michelle Duval at 252-808-8011

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
December 12, 2016; 6 p.m.
Port Royal Sound Maritime Center (adjacent to Edgar C Glenn boat ramp on the Chechessee River)
310 Okatie Highway
Okatie, S.C.
Contact: Mel Bell at 843-953-9007

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
December 14, 2016; 6 p.m.
New Smyrna City Hall
City Commission Chambers (accessible via the South entrance from Julia Street)
210 Sams Avenue
New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
Contact: Jim Estes at 850-617-9622

As the first step in the FMP development process, the PID provides stakeholders with an opportunity to inform the Commission about changes observed in the fishery and provide feedback on potential management measures as well as any additional issues that should be included in the Draft FMP. Specifically, the PID seeks comment on the management unit; goals and objectives of the plan; commercial and recreational measures; coastwide, regional or state-by-state measures; and other issues.

This action responds to a request by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) for the Commission to consider joint or complementary management of the resource in light of the significant overage of the 2015 recreational annual catch limit (ACL) and the impact of those overages to state management. Further, during most recent years, a majority of recreational landings of cobia along the Atlantic coast occurs in state waters. The Commission considered this request in August and agreed to move forward with the development of a complementary FMP.

Widely distributed throughout the western Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, cobia are managed as two distinct groups – the Gulf Migratory Group and the Atlantic Migratory Group. The Atlantic Migratory Group, which range from New York to Georgia, is managed by the SAFMC. The east coast of Florida falls under the Gulf Migratory Group. The SAFMC manages the east coast of Florida sub-ACL which is set by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. Recreational landings of the Atlantic Migratory Group in 2015 were approximately 1.5 million pounds, 145% over the ACL, resulting in a June 20, 2016 closure of the fishery by NOAA Fisheries. Commercial cobia landings in 2015 were 83,148 pounds, 38% over the ACL. Late landings reports in 2015 precluded a timely closure of the commercial fishery.

Concerns were expressed by some states whose recreational seasons would have been significantly reduced by federal waters closure due to the 2015 quota overage. Instead of following the federal closure, several states developed alternate management strategies to reduce economic impacts to their state fisheries which resulted in differing regulations for federal and state water fishing. An intent of the complementary Cobia FMP is to provide the states the flexibility to respond to changes in the fishery and stock that meet their state fisheries needs without impacting federal fishermen while meeting the goals and objectives of the FMP.

Stakeholders are encouraged to provide input on the PID either by attending state public hearings or providing written comment. The PID can be obtained at or via the Commission’s website,, under Public Input. Public comment will be accepted until 5 p.m. (EST) on Jan. 6, 2017 and should be forwarded to Dr. Louis Daniel, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St, Suite A-N, Arlington, Va. 22201; 703-842-0741 (FAX) or at (Subject line: Cobia PID).

The Management Board will meet at the Commission’s 2017 Winter Meeting to review and consider public comment and provide direction to staff for items to be included in the Draft FMP. For more information, please contact Louis Daniel at or 252-342-1478.

112116 SAFMC

Release: Immediate
Contact: Patricia Smith
Date: Nov. 16, 2016
Phone: 252-726-7021

State to remove remaining artificial reef buoys

MOREHEAD CITY — In the coming months, the state marine fisheries agency will remove all remaining buoys from the state’s artificial reefs in the Atlantic Ocean.

The buoys, which are used to identify the location of an artificial reef, are not required for safe navigation in the ocean. They are being removed because the state no longer has equipment capable of servicing them, and contracting for this service would be cost prohibitive.

The Division of Marine Fisheries began this effort in late 2014 when it removed 11 buoys from artificial reefs. An additional 25 buoys were slated for removal once GPS coordinates were verified for navigational charts. These verifications have been made, and state and federal permitting agencies have given authorization to proceed.

Since 2014, some of the 25 buoys that initially remained came loose during storms and were subsequently removed. The division will begin removing the remaining 18 buoys at the end of November.

The division will continue to maintain all 42 ocean artificial reefs, periodically adding material and monitoring the status.

GPS coordinates, site maps and other information about the artificial reefs can be found on the Artificial Reef Program’s website or in the recently published paper-bound Artificial Reef Guide.

For more information, contact Jason Peters with the division’s Artificial Reef Program at 252-808-8063 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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