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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Fall Flounder Gill Net Fishery

Marine Fisheries

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Release: Immediate
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: (252) 726-7021
Date: Aug. 30, 2011

Pamlico Sound Fall Flounder Gill Net Fishery to Open in 2011

MOREHEAD CITY – North Carolina will continue the flounder gill net fishery in Pamlico Sound this fall under the same regulations and permit requirements as previous years.

The National Marine Fisheries Service recently agreed to allow a large-mesh gill net fishery in the Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area for the fall of 2011 while it reviews the state’s application for a new permit to include all gill net fishing in internal coastal waters statewide. Fishermen typically use large-mesh gill nets to target flounder.

The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will decide at its upcoming meeting when to open this fall’s Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area fishery. A delay in the traditional Sept. 1 opening date may be helpful to maximize flounder catches and minimize the chance of interactions with sea turtles.

In the meantime, fishermen who wish to participate in this fishery need to apply for a permit with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries through any of the agency’s license offices. Applications will be mailed to previous permit holders.

By federal rule, all of Pamlico Sound closes to large-mesh gill net fishing from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30 each year. The closure began in 1999 after several instances of fishery interactions with threatened and endangered sea turtles.

Since 2000, the National Marine Fisheries Service has allowed a highly-monitored, large-mesh gill net fishery during the closure in limited areas of the sound under a series of Incidental Take Permits. These permits, authorized under Section 10 of the federal Endangered Species Act, allow for limited takes of threatened or endangered species in an otherwise lawful activity.

North Carolina’s latest Incidental Take Permit for the Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area expired Dec. 31. Without additional authorization, the Division of Marine Fisheries could not have allowed the fall flounder gill net fishery in Pamlico Sound.

In May 2010, the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries submitted an application for a statewide Incidental Take Permit to cover set gill nets statewide, including the Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area. However, National Marine Fisheries Service review of the application was delayed due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The division was notified on Aug. 24 that the application had been received and deemed complete. The National Marine Fisheries Service intends to publish a notice of receipt in the Federal Register in the coming weeks.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • (252) 726-7021 or 1-800-682-263

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