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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Etiquette Ethical Angling

Marine Fisheries

dive flag

Etiquette and Ethical Angling

8-point rule

 

Dive Safety and Etiquette:

  • Observe all state and federal fishing regulations.
  • Do not tamper with commercial fishing gear – it’s illegal!
  • Do not harvest oysters from oyster sanctuaries – it’s illegal!
  • Do not litter or throw any trash overboard. Remember, fishing line, plastic, and other garbage can kill fish, turtles, and birds. It can also entangle and endanger divers. Bring garbage back to the dock and dispose in an appropriate receptacle.
  • First come, first served: Be courteous and give anchored boats a wide berth.
  • Watch for divers. Stay away from boats displaying a Diver Down flag.
  • Always proceed with caution if there are Diver Down flags. Watch for diver’s bubbles.
  • Immediately release all live fish and shellfish that you are not planning to keep.
  • Fish responsibly; use circle hooks.
  • Follow federal regulations and vent when necessary.
     

diver with speargun

Diving North Carolina’s Artificial Reefs

  • Complete dive courses and obtain all necessary certifications.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, and use caution when diving.
  • Display an appropriate Diver Down flag when divers are in the water.
  • Do not dive on artificial reefs where fishermen are drift fishing, due to the presence of moving fishing gear.
  • Be aware:
  • Artificial reefs may contain sharp or jagged surfaces.
  • Respect the environment you’re visiting.
  • Please do not touch coral or pick up any marine creatures. This can damage or even kill the creatures you’re visiting.
  • Dive at your own risk.

ethical angling

Ethical Angling

Prepare for Your Trip

  • Make sure you have a valid Coastal Recreational Fishing License or are covered under an exemption.
  • Check the latest size and bag limits on the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries website at www.fisheries.net. These regulations can change frequently.
  • Become familiar with the fish species commonly caught in North Carolina waters so that size and bag limits can be properly applied.
  • Stock your tackle box with a pair of needl-enose pliers or a dehooking device, a tape measure, glove or towel.

While You Fish

  • Use circle hooks to help prevent the fish from swallowing the hook. Pinch the barb down on all hooks.
  • Do not fight a fish into exhaustion; instead tighten the drag and land it as quickly as possible.
  • Practice Catch and Release. Do not take your entire bag limit if you are not going to consume them. Most released fish survive to be caught another day.
  • Do not discard a previously caught legal fish for a larger legal fish to remain within the bag limit. This is called high-grading and is an unnecessary waste of fish.

Releasing Your Catch

  • Handle the fish as little as possible and keep it out of the water as little as possible.
  • Leave the fish in the water to release it if conditions are feasible.
  • When handling the fish, use a wet towel or wet glove to gently but firmly grip the fish below the gills. This will keep the fish from thrashing around. The wet towel or glove will preserve the protective slime on the fish.
  • Use a pair of needle-nose pliers or a dehooking device to grip the hook and gently back the hook out. Do not twist the hook.
  • If the hook has been swallowed, cut the fishing line; the hook may dissolve in the fish’s digestive system.
  • Gently slide the fish back into the water head first, allowing water to pass over its gills.

Protect the Environment

  • Never leave or throw trash overboard. Take it ashore and properly dispose of it. This includes old fishing line, six-pack drink yokes, leaders and hooks, bottles, cans, plastic shopping bags or anything that could harm fish or wildlife.
  • Avoid spilling or dumping pollutants such as oil and gasoline into the water or on land.
  • Report any pollution or environmental damage to the appropriate authorities.
  • Never harm marine mammals, birds or sea turtles, even if they are trying to steal your bait or catch.

Be Nice

  • Learn and obey fishing and boating laws and treat other anglers and boaters  with courtesy.
  • Call the N.C. Marine Patrol at 800-682-2632 if you witness fishing violations or are uncertain of any laws. Do not try to handle the situation yourself.

Click here to download the brochure in PDF format.

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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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