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Navigating the Maze of Fisheries Agencies

Fish Eye News
Spring 2011 Archive

Figuring out what fisheries agency is responsible for what fishing regulation can sometimes be confusing to the public. Here’s a short primer to help untangle those regulatory lines:

N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission is a nine-member board appointed by the governor, to three-year terms. The purpose of the Marine Fisheries Commission is to manage, restore, develop, cultivate, conserve, protect and regulate the marine and estuarine resources of the state.

Coastal waters of the state include saltwater rivers and sounds and the ocean out to three miles from shore.

By law, the commission consists of three commercial fishermen, with one of those being a licensed dealer, processor or distributor; three recreational fishermen, with one of those being involved with the sports fishing industry; one fisheries scientist; and two at-large. There are also residency requirements and earned income thresholds set out in the statute.

The commission meets at least four times a year to debate and vote on fishing rules and other management decisions. Issues are vetted through a fishery management plan process that includes extensive review by advisory committees and ample opportunity for public comment.

The commission has the authority to delegate decisions on opening and closing fishing seasons, size and harvest limits and gear requirements to the director of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries. The commission has delegated this authority on many species, but retains the right to overrule the director’s decisions.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is the state agency that collects and analyzes data necessary to recommend management actions to the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission. The agency then implements the rules and policies passed by the Marine Fisheries Commission.

The division is comprised of nine sections that collectively work together to accomplish this task. Staff duties include researching the stock status of species and recommending fisheries management actions, selling fishing licenses and analyzing statistics, enforcing fisheries rules, educating the public about fisheries issues, reviewing environmental permits for impacts to fisheries, building artificial reefs and other resource enhancement projects and monitoring fisheries for interactions with protected species.

The director of the Division of Marine Fisheries has authority to open and close fishing seasons and set size and harvest limits and gear requirements for many species. However, the Marine Fisheries Commission may overrule the director’s decisions.

N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission oversees freshwater fishing in inland waters. The Division of Marine Fisheries and the Wildlife Resources Commission jointly regulate brackish waters of the state. Maps of boundary lines can be found at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/coastal-joint-inland-waters

 

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