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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

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Marine Fisheries - News Release Archives - Aug. 2011

Marine Fisheries

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News Release Archives - Aug. 2011


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.


Release: Immediate
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: (252) 726-7021
Date: Aug. 29, 2011

Coastal Waters Temporarily Close to Shellfishing

MOREHEAD CITY – Upon recommendation of the state health director, the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will temporarily close all coastal waters to shellfish harvesting effective immediately, due to potential impacts of floodwaters on these areas.

The division will begin testing shellfish waters Tuesday and reopen areas as tests show safe bacteria levels.  Excessive rainfall, coastal flooding and sanitary sewer overflows may have contaminated these waters.


Release: Immediate
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: (252) 726-7021
Date: Aug. 29, 2011

Division of Marine Fisheries Works to Remove Tires from Atlantic Beach

MOREHEAD CITY – Following reports of tires washing up on Atlantic Beach this weekend in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, staff with the Division of Marine Fisheries this morning are working to clear the tires from the beach.
 
Division staff report that less than 1,000 tires washed ashore this weekend, concentrated between Fort Macon and Indian Beach. Staff members are working with a small inmate crew to remove the tires from the beach as quickly as possible. The tires will be removed and taken to a staging area where a contractor who recycles tires will pick them up.
 
As part of its artificial reef program, in the 1970s the Division of Marine Fisheries constructed artificial reefs made of tires for fish habitat and to produce attractive fishing grounds—the practice of using tires for artificial reefs has been discontinued for many years. However, tires from these old reefs are sometimes loosened during storms and wash ashore. DMF staff believe that the tires that washed up this weekend came from the Atlantic Beach reef and the Onslow Bay Saltwater Fishing Club reef.

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Release: Immediate
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: (252) 726-7021
Date: Aug. 29, 2011

Marine Fisheries Commission Meeting Rescheduled 

MOREHEAD CITY – Due to the state of emergency and the impacts of Hurricane Irene on commission members and the general public, the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission meeting that was scheduled for this week has been postponed until next week.

The meeting has been rescheduled Sept. 7-9 at the Holiday Inn Brownstone Hotel & Conference Center, 1707 Hillsborough St., Raleigh. It is being postponed because several commission members and the general public were impacted by Hurricane Irene and will not be able to attend.

The agenda for next week’s meeting will include the same discussion items as was slated for this week’s meeting, though some of the presentation times may change. The old agenda and briefing book can be found on the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries website at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/august-2011-mfc-briefing-book. An updated agenda will be posted later this week.

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Release: Immediate
Contact: Kathy Collins
Phone: (302) 674-2331 (ext. 253)
Date: Aug. 23, 2011

Council Recommends Increases for 2012

The Council met last week in Wilmington, DE with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Summer Flounder, Scup, Black Sea Bass, and Bluefish Boards to adopt fishery management measures for 2012. Based on their recommendations, the harvest limits for summer flounder, scup, and bluefish could increase if approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service. 

At their meeting, the Council recommended harvest limits using the process detailed in the recently approved Annual Catch Limit and Accountability Measure Amendment. Based on the Council's recommendation, the summer flounder quota and harvest limit would increase 7% compared to 2011 levels - the commercial quota would be 18.95 million pounds and the recreational harvest limit 12.63 million pounds for the 2012 fishing year. 

The Council also recommended a commercial quota of 34.43 million pounds and a recreational harvest limit of 10.85 million pounds for the scup fishery. These limits are 66% and 86% higher for the commercial and recreational fisheries, respectively, compared to 2011.  

For black sea bass, the Council recommended the same commercial quota as 2011, 1.76 million pounds. However, they recommended a lower limit of 1.36 million pounds for the recreational fishery to address the management uncertainty associated with that fishery. 

Finally, the Council recommended a commercial quota of 10.50 million pounds and a recreational harvest limit of 17.19 million pounds for the bluefish fishery. These levels are about 1% higher compared to the 2011 limits. 

“The Council’s new quota-setting procedures, developed through the Omnibus ACL/AM amendment in response to the reauthorization of the Magnuson Act, were applied for the first time last week and resulted in modest to substantial growth in the quotas of several of the Council’s managed species that are near or above their rebuilding targets,” stated Council Chairman, Rick Robins.  “The Black Sea Bass quota remained status quo, and a benchmark stock assessment for this important species is anticipated in December.”

800 N State St., Suite 201, Dover, DE 19901 Phone (302) 674-2331  * FAX (302) 674-5399 Richard B. Robins, Jr.-Chairman * Lee G. Anderson-Vice Chairman  Christopher M. Moore, Ph.D.,  Executive Director www.mafmc.org

PR11-12

 


Release: Immediate
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: (252) 726-7021
Date: Aug. 24, 2011

Fishermen Should Prepare for Hurricane Irene

MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is asking fishermen to begin now preparing for Hurricane Irene.

Long-range forecasts by the National Hurricane Center show Hurricane Irene possibly brushing the coast of North Carolina during the weekend.

Fishermen should remove fishing gear from the water well in advance of the storm’s arrival to avoid damage to their gear, as waters may become too rough to do so later. Crab pots, gill nets and pound nets, especially, are prone to damage and displacement during storms.

Additionally, vessel owners should check their safety equipment to ensure all is in working order and prepare to remove their boats from the water or take them to safe harbor.

Fishermen should monitor NOAA Weather radio for storm updates and channel 16 on their marine radios for U.S. Coast Guard emergency broadcasts.

nr-36-11


Release: Immediate
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: (252) 726-7021
Date: Aug. 17, 2011

Walker Named Marine Patrol Officer of the Year

MOREHEAD CITY – Being selected as Marine Patrol Officer of the Year came a little later in Sgt. Jason Walker’s career than he ever anticipated.

“I had my heart set on it years ago in the field, and it never happened,” said Walker, who has risen through the ranks in his 13 years with Marine Patrol. “After you get promoted, you think that’s never going to happen.”

The internal nomination process for the award begins with the field officers, and supervisors are not often picked. So it is a particular honor for Walker to be selected for the Governor’s Award for Marine Patrol Officer of the Year for 2010.

“It’s something that’s made my family proud . . . and me also,” Walker said.

Walker was chosen because he exemplifies the attributes of a leader, said Jim Kelley, captain of Marine Patrol’s Southern District that runs from the Emerald Isle bridge to the South Carolina line. Walker supervises patrols from the Wrightsville Beach bridge to the South Carolina state line.

“Jason is not only one of the most outstanding officers that I’ve ever dealt with but probably one of the most outstanding people,” Kelley said. “He works hard, he’s dedicated and he’s pretty much a good all around person, and he’s respected by anyone he has had dealings with.”

Walker started with the Marine Patrol in August 1998 in Aurora, working on the Pamlico River.

“He was a very quick study who enjoyed his work and the fishermen in his assigned area,” Kelley said. “He was known for his hard work and liked because he was fair and respectful to everyone.”

 In 2001, Walker transferred to the Southport area, where he worked until August 2007, when he attained the rank of sergeant. The promotion took him to the Northern District where he supervised officers in Hyde County and the Outer Banks portion of Dare County.

“This was Sgt. Walker’s first experience as a supervisor,” Kelley said, “but the same things that helped him in his life experiences and in his field work were destined to help him as a manager: hard work, respect and fairness.”

Walker made another move in June 2008 to the Pender County/Onslow County area of the Southern District, then to the Brunswick County area in November 2009.

 Walker graduated in 1997 from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a degree in criminology. He lives with his wife, Elizabeth, and son, Noah, in the Boiling Springs community in Brunswick County.

Walker will receive his award Aug. 27 at the North Carolina Wildlife Federation’s 48th annual Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards Program in Durham.

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