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Marine Fisheries - News Release Archives - Dec. 2012

Marine Fisheries

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Release: Immediate
Date: Dec. 18, 2012
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

Division Already Acting on Recommendations in State Audit

RALEIGH – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has already taken steps to correct the problems identified in a state auditor’s report released today.

The division has shifted the duties of staff and instituted other procedures to ensure there is no conflict of interest in the way it does business with private companies.

The audit found that a biology supervisor in the Oyster Rehabilitation Program contracted with and prepared invoices for a trucking company owned and operated by his father-in-law. The use of this company predated the promotion of the biologist supervisor into a contracting position. After his promotion, the biologist supervisor continued the same contracting process that his predecessor used, and continued contracting with his father-in-law’s business.

The selection and contracting process has now been shifted to an employee who has no relation to the potential hauling companies, and all employees have been instructed not to prepare invoices for companies with which they contract. The division has reviewed its transactions with the relative’s trucking company and found it was paid the same set rates as other trucking companies for transportation services. There were no overpayments, and the rates were competitive with rates paid by other state agencies for comparable services.

The audit also found that the father-in-law’s trucking company subcontracted some of the oyster shell hauling work to a subsidiary that lists the biologist supervisor’s wife as president of the company. The audit report states that the biologist supervisor’s wife received one payment of $5,000 from the subsidiary. That amount has been repaid by the biologist supervisor.

The division has a conflict of interest policy that prohibits staff from contracting with companies owned or operated by direct relations. Under this policy, it is the responsibility of each employee to not participate in an activity that may provide a conflict of interest and to notify his supervisor when a situation or assignment may lead to a conflict of interest.

The audit further found that, due to the misinterpretation of a special delegation, the division erred by not soliciting bids for trucking services used to haul oyster shell for the Oyster Rehabilitation Program. The Oyster Rehabilitation Program falls under a special rule that exempts it from the bid solicitation requirement in certain circumstances. The division has received recent guidance from the N.C. Department of Administration, which expands the special delegation to include hauling services.

The division had already acted to correct some of the issues raised by the audit, and it is taking action to make sure the remaining issues are promptly and fully addressed.

nr-51-2012


Release: Immediate
Date: Dec. 17, 2012
Phone: 703-842-0740
Contact: Tina Berger

ASMFC Approves Atlantic Menhaden Amendment 2

Baltimore, Md. — The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has approved Amendment 2 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Menhaden. The Amendment establishes a 170,800 MT total allowable catch (TAC) beginning in 2013 and continuing until completion of, and Board action on, the next benchmark stock assessment, scheduled for 2014. The TAC represents a 20% reduction from the average of landings from 2009-2011 and an approximately 25% reduction from 2011 levels. The Board also adopted new biological reference points for biomass based on maximum spawning potential (MSP), with the goal of increasing abundance, spawning stock biomass, and menhaden availability as a forage species.

“Through the selection of the MSP-based reference points, beginning with adoption of Addendum V in 2011 and continuing today, the Board has made a conscious decision to address the ecosystem services provided by Atlantic menhaden,” stated Board Chair Louis Daniel of North Carolina. “Given the stock is experiencing overfishing and is most likely overfished based on the newly adopted reference points, it was incumbent upon the Board to reduce landings in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the resource and the fisheries that depend on it.”

The Amendment allocates the TAC on a state-by-state basis based on landings history of the fishery from 2009-2011; allocation will be revisited three years after implementation. Further, it reduces the Chesapeake Bay reduction fishery harvest cap by 20% (this is an adjustment of cap which was in place since 2006). States will be required to close their fisheries when the state-specific portion of the TAC has been reached; any overages must be paid back the following year. The Amendment includes provisions to allow for the transfer of quota between states and a bycatch allowance of 6,000 pounds for non-directed fisheries that are operating after a state TAC has been landed. The Amendment also establishes requirements for timely reporting and improved biological monitoring.

For more information, please contact Mike Waine, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at mwaine@asmfc.org or 703-842-0740.

PR12-63


Release: Immediate
Date: Dec. 17, 2012
Phone: 252-726-7021
Contact: Patricia Smith

Cultch Planting Meetings Scheduled for Central
and Northern Coastal Areas

MOREHEAD CITY — The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will hold five public meetings in January to receive suggestions and comments on cultch planting in the central and northern coastal areas of the state.

Cultch planting is where shells and rock are placed into the waters to enhance shellfish habitat in potentially productive shellfish areas. Oysters, clams and other aquatic life are attracted to the cultch and will begin to immediately colonize the material.

The division’s Shellfish Rehabilitation Program staff constantly looks for ways to improve the program, so annual meetings are held to provide fishermen and interested parties the opportunity to give advice regarding planting sites, methods, materials and quantities.

The meetings are set for:

Jan. 3 at 6 p.m.
N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries
Central District Office
5285 Highway 70 West, Morehead City

Jan. 7 at 6 p.m.
Ocracoke Watermen’s Exhibit
Community Square Dock
278 Irvin Garrish Highway, Ocracoke

Jan. 8 at 6 p.m.
N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries
Manteo Field Office
1021 Driftwood Drive, Manteo

Jan. 9 at 6 p.m.
Hyde County Government Center
30 Oyster Creek Road, Swan Quarter

Jan. 10 at 6 p.m.
Pamlico County Courthouse (upstairs)
202 Main Street, Bayboro

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