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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Past Present Future

Marine Fisheries


Topping the 2010 list: trawl fisheries.

In addition to the shrimp trawl fishery, North Carolina has an ocean flounder trawl fishery and a croaker/weakfish flynet fishery that fall under this category.

Next on the list: gill net fisheries, including North Carolina’s inshore gill net fishery, followed by the trap/pot fisheries and then the pound net/weir/seine fisheries.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is still in its first phase of its Strategy for Sea Turtle Conservation and Recovery, focusing on the trawl fisheries, Gutierrez said, except when an acute problem is identified in a specific area.

Such was the case in 2001 when the National Marine Fisheries Service began closing Pamlico Sound to large-mesh gill net fishing each fall. The state has allowed a limited gill net fishery in the sound under an incidental take permit.

It happened again in the summer of 2009 when the National Marine Fisheries Service started a new program to observe the Core Sound gill net fishery.

“There were a large number of animals impacted in a short time,” Gutierrez said.

In response, the state implemented stricter regulations on the large-mesh gill net fishery in Core Sound and in other waters where interactions with sea turtles had occurred. The issue prompted a lawsuit filed in federal court by the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. A lawsuit settlement agreement was signed by all parties of the suit in May 2010. North Carolina is pursuing an incidental take permit for the gill net fishery statewide.

Different fishing gears in other states have seen similar federal scrutiny, such as the Chesapeake Bay pound net fishery and the Mississippi skimmer trawl fishery, Gutierrez said.

“I don’t think we’re trying to single out any gear,” Gutierrez said. “I think, if anything, what we’re trying to do both domestically and internationally is level the playing field.”

Leveling the playing field means working with other nations to promote the protection of sea turtles, as well.

“We are cognizant that turtles migrate to other countries,” Gutierrez said.

There are binding treaties between countries of the Western Hemisphere, but the process of getting action on the international level is much slower than within the United States, she said.

There are two domestic laws that help give these treaties some teeth, Gutierrez said. One prevents imported seafood products from entering the United States if the country is not taking measures to protect sea turtles. The other prohibits the importation of shrimp harvested with commercial fishing technology that may adversely affect sea turtles.

“Right now, Mexico cannot send wild-caught shrimp to the United States,” Gutierrez said.

It is clearly a worldwide issue that hits close to home, Daniel said.

“We are committed to finding the balance between allowing traditional fishing activities and protecting sea turtles, but it will not be an easy fix,” Daniel said.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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