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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - News Release Archives - July 2012

Marine Fisheries

News Release Archives — July 2012

Phone: 843-571-4366
Release: Immediate
Date:; July 31, 2012

South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s Public
Hearings/Workshops/Informal Input

Issues: permits/reporting requirements for commercial and for-hire fishermen; federal dealer requirements; shrimp fishery changes; marine protected areas; and proposed changes for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia.

4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

August 6, 2012
Richmond Hill City Center
520 Cedar Street
Richmond Hill, GA 31324
Phone: 912-445-0043
August 9, 2012 *
Hilton Key Largo Resort
97000 South Overseas Hwy.
Key Largo, FL 33037
Phone: 305-852-5553
August 7, 2012 *
Jacksonville Marriott 
4670 Salisbury Road
Jacksonville, FL 32256
Phone: 904-296-2222
August 14, 2012
Hilton Garden Inn Airport
5265 International Blvd.
N. Charleston, SC 29418
Phone: 843-308-9330
August 8, 2012 *
Doubletree Hotel
2080 North Atlantic Ave.
Cocoa Beach, FL 32931
Phone: 321-783-9222
August 16, 2012 *
Hilton New Bern Riverfront
100 Middle Street
New Bern, NC 28560
Phone: 252-638-3585
* MPA Workshops will be held in conjunction with public hearings scheduled for Florida and North Carolina. Workshops were previously held in South Carolina and Georgia earlier this year.

Public Hearing Issues:

Comprehensive Ecosystem-Based Amendment 3 (CE-BA 3): Includes measures to modify commercial and for-hire (charter/headboat) permits and reporting requirements to help ensure that Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) are not exceeded. Alternatives include the use of Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) for commercial vessels.

Shrimp Amendment 9: Modifies the current protocol used by individual states to request concurrent closures of federal waters during severe cold weather events. This would expedite the closure process to help protect overwintering shrimp. The amendment would also revise the Minimum Stock Size Threshold (MSST) proxy for pink shrimp.

Joint South Atlantic/Gulf Generic Seafood Dealer Amendment: Addresses alternatives for: a “universal” federal dealer permit for both the South Atlantic and Gulf regions; dealer reporting requirements (frequency and methods); and requirements to maintain federal dealer permits.

King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel and Cobia: Council staff will be on hand to informally discuss management measures being proposed for both South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico groups of king and Spanish mackerel as well as cobia. Issues include: sale of bag limit king and Spanish mackerel; tournament sale of king mackerel; sale of cobia; elimination of latent effort in mackerel fisheries; changes to Spanish mackerel gill net fishery; state and/or regional quotas for Atlantic group king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia; and other measures.

Marine Protected Area (MPA) Workshops: The Council is seeking public input on the occurrence of speckled hind and warsaw grouper, including possible spawning areas and habitat for these two species. MPAs are being considered to help reduce bycatch mortality. (Note: Management actions concerning speckled hind and warsaw grouper were moved from CE-BA 3 to CE-BA 4 during the Council’s June 2012 meeting.)

Additional meeting information, including copies of the public hearing documents are available through the Council office and posted at

Public Hearings / MPA Workshops / Informal Input

August 6-16, 2012

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is holding a series of public meetings in August to solicit input on management measures proposed for federally managed species under its jurisdiction. The meetings will include formal public hearings, informal public input and discussion sessions, and MPA Workshops (N.C. and Fla. only).

Why should I attend?
Local Council representatives and staff members will be on hand throughout the afternoon and early evening on the meeting day to answer your questions and discuss concerns about topics listed on the front of this card. In addition, you will have an opportunity to go on record to provide formal comments for the Council to consider in future management decisions.

Meetings will be held from 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Copies of public hearing documents will be available at or by contacting the Council office at 843-571-4366 or toll free 866-SAFMC-10.

Can’t attend a meeting?
Written comments may be submitted to the Council until 5:00 p.m. on August 20, 2012. Details on how to submit written comments are posted on the website and included in the public hearing documents.

Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021
Release: Immediate
Date:  July 31, 2012

Public Comment Sought on New Oyster Sanctuary

MOREHEAD CITY — The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will hold a public meeting in August to receive comments on the location for a new oyster sanctuary site near Engelhard.

The meeting is set for 6 p.m. Aug. 15 at the Hyde County Courthouse, 30 Oyster Creek Road, Swanquarter.

The division proposes to construct an oyster reef with about 1,000 concrete structures on five acres of soft bottom in the Long Shoal area.

These materials will attract oyster larvae, as well as clams, juvenile fish, crabs and other marine organisms, providing fish habitat and improving water quality.

The reefs also will serve as a brood stock for oysters. Harvest of oysters and the use of bottom disturbing gear are prohibited on the reef. But the oysters that grow there will produce millions of eggs annually that will be carried by currents and tides to surrounding areas that are open to oyster harvest.

The division’s Oyster Sanctuary Program will receive funding for this project from the U.S. Department of the Navy as mitigation for the reactivation of the Navy’s Dare County Bombing Range at Long Shoal.

Interested parties are invited to provide advice regarding the placement of the reef.

For more information, contact Pelle Holmlund, with the division’s Resource Enhancement Section, at 252-808-8055 or


Contact: Kathy Collins
Phone: 2-674-2331 Ext: 253
Release: Immediate
Date: July 30, 2012

Council Releases Stakeholder Report and
Launches Strategic Planning Process

DOVER, Del. —The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council has released a final report summarizing the ideas, concerns, and recommendations from more than 1,500 individuals who provided input for the Visioning and Strategic Planning Project.

The Stakeholder Input Report outlines 55 themes/concerns and 123 recommendations from three of the Council’s primary stakeholder groups—the commercial industry, the recreational sector, and the environmental community. Participants commented on topics ranging from decision-making and communication procedures to management strategies for specific fisheries.

Outreach and data gathering for the report occurred over a five month period beginning in September 2011. Online and mail surveys were available to anyone interested in providing input on fisheries management, and council members and staff met with more than 200 individuals in 20 locations throughout the Northeast region in roundtable sessions. Organizations also had the opportunity to submit position letters describing their concerns and priorities for Mid-Atlantic fisheries.

“The Council has a diverse constituency, and we recognize that effective fisheries management must include meaningful stakeholder participation,” said Council Chairman Rick Robins. “We have a history of successful stock rebuilding, but we continue to struggle with maintaining full stakeholder engagement. This report and the forthcoming strategic plan will enable the Council to make decisions that are more accurately informed by stakeholder perspectives.”

Report Highlights

The Stakeholder Input Report, which is available on the Council’s website, is organized in to three sections—Themes and Recommendations, Stakeholder Visions, and Fishery-Specific Themes. Themes and Recommendations are further organized in to six categories, including Information and Data, Management Strategies, Economic Challenges, Communication and Participation, Governance and Ecosystems.

Although stakeholder perspectives are often characterized as inherently conflicting, a number of common themes were identified by members of the commercial fishing industry, the recreational fishing sector, environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs), and the general public. These themes included:

  • There is a lack of confidence in the data that drive fishery management decisions.
  • Stakeholders are not as involved in the Council process as they can and should be.
  • Different jurisdictions and regulations among the many fishery management organizations result in complexity and inconsistency.
  • There is a need for increased transparency and clearer communications in fisheries management.
  • The dynamics of the ecosystem and food web should be considered to a greater extent in fisheries management decisions.
  • Stakeholders are not adequately represented on the Council.
  • Pollution is negatively affecting the health of fish stocks.

In addition to voicing concerns and providing recommendations, stakeholders identified elements of a “Vision” for successful fisheries and fisheries management in the Mid-Atlantic. Five common characteristics of a vision were identified across all stakeholder groups, including:

  • Fish populations are thriving and are harvested at sustainable levels.
  • Management decisions are based on sound data and science.
  • There is equitable consideration of the needs of diverse stakeholder groups; the interest of no one stakeholder group outweighs another.
  • There is little waste in the fisheries, and regulatory discards are minimal.
  • More stakeholders are involved in the management process.

Next Steps

The report will play a critical role in the Council’s strategic planning process, scheduled to begin next month when the newly-established Visioning and Strategic Planning Working Group meets for the first time. The working group, comprising approximately 25 Council members and stakeholders, will draft a Vision, Goal Statement, and 10-year Strategic Plan to guide the Council’s management decisions and priorities.

“This report is the product of the largest outreach and data gathering initiative the Council has ever undertaken. There is a sincere commitment among Council members to integrate stakeholder input in to the strategic plan as much as possible,” said Chairman Robins. “We are grateful to the 1,500 stakeholders who took the time to share their concerns and ideas with us, and the vision and strategic plan will reflect their input.”

The full report and additional information about the project are available at: To download the report directly, click here.

Additional details about the strategic planning process and opportunities for involvement will be posted in August.

Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021
Release: Immediate
Date:  July 25, 2012

State Record Gag Grouper, Queen Trigger Caught

MOREHEAD CITY — The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries officially certified two state record fish catches Friday.

A Jacksonville man broke the state queen trigger fish record with a 10 pound, 11 ounce fish caught July 3, and a Newport man established the state gag grouper record with a 43 pound, 8 ounce fish caught May 12.

Benjamin Peterson of Jacksonville caught the queen trigger 55 miles out New River Inlet using squid as bait on a Shimano Trevela rod and Shimano Sarasota 18000 reel with Power Pro 65 pound test braided fishing line. It measured 23.5 inches fork length (tip of the nose to fork in the tail) and had a 22-inch girth.

Peterson’s queen trigger replaces the previous state record of 10 pounds, 5 ounces, set in 2011. The world record queen trigger was 14 pounds, 3 ounces, when it was caught in Mexico in 2009.

David Abernathy of Newport established the state record for gag grouper with a 43 pound, 8 ounce fish caught off Morehead City using a Roscoe jig on a Shimano Saragosa reel and Star Spinning rod with a 65-pound test fishing line. It measured 45 inches total length (tip of the nose to tip of the tail) and had a 31.5-inch girth.

North Carolina previously did not have a state record gag grouper. To establish a state record fish, the angler must submit an application that is then reviewed by N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries staff and a N.C. Saltwater Fishing Tournament Advisory Board. The fish must be exceptionally large for North Carolina waters and within a reasonable range of the world record.
The world record gag grouper was 80 pounds, 6 ounces, caught off of Florida in 1993.

For more information, contact Carole Willis, division sportfishing specialist, at 252-808-8081 or

Download photos of Peterson and Abernathy with their catches at


Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021
Release: Immediate
Date: July 23, 2012

Correction: Corrects time of Finfish meeting to 11 a.m.

New Advisory Committees Formed, Meetings Set

MOREHEAD CITY — In an effort to work more efficiently, the state has reorganized several advisory committees of the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission.

These new committees will meet in the coming weeks to give input on two issues the commission will discuss at its August meeting. These issues are potential management measures for gill nets due to the listing of Atlantic sturgeon as an endangered species and the creation of two new seed oyster management areas.

A new state law combines and condenses the Northeast, Central, Southeast and Inland regional advisory committees into a Northern Regional Advisory Committee and a Southern Regional Advisory Committee. The new law also combines and condenses the Shellfish and Crustacean advisory committees into one Shellfish/Crustacean Advisory Committee.

The N.C. General Assembly passed the legislation at the recommendation of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries. Gov. Bev Perdue signed the bill into law July 16.

The recommendation stemmed from a 2010 law that directed the division to study ways to improve the fishery management plan process without impairing public input.

The new Northern Regional Advisory Committee encompasses areas from the Virginia line south through Hyde and Pamlico counties and any counties to the west. The new Southern Regional Advisory Committee encompasses areas from Carteret County south to the South Carolina line and any counties to the west.

Marine Fisheries Commission Chairman Rob Bizzell pulled from the pool of members of the old committees to appoint members to the new committees today. A membership list is on the division’s website at

Each new committee is comprised of 11 members representing commercial and recreational fishing interests, as well as scientists.

The new Shellfish/Crustacean Committee will discuss a proposed amendment to the Oyster Fishery Management Plan to create seed oyster management areas at Possum Bay and Swan Point in the mouth of the New River. Read about this proposal at

The new regional advisory committees will discuss the proposed seed oyster management areas, as well as management options to reduce sea turtle and Atlantic sturgeon interactions in the estuarine gill net fishery. Read about this issue at:

The meetings will be held at the following dates, times and locations:

 Northern Regional Advisory Committee
 6 p.m. July 31
 N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Regional Office
 943 Washington Square Mall, Washington
 Contact: Kathy Rawls at 800-338-7805 or 252-264-3911 or

 Southern Regional Advisory Committee
 6 p.m. Aug. 1
 N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Regional Office
 127 Cardinal Drive, Wilmington
 Contact: Mike Marshall at 800-682-2632 or 252-808-8077 or

 Shellfish/Crustacean Committee
 6 p.m. Aug. 2
 N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Central District Office
 5285 Highway 70 West, Morehead City
 Contact: Mike Marshall at 800-682-2632 or 252-808-8077 or

Previously announced meetings of the Finfish Advisory Committee and the Sea Turtle Advisory Committee remain as scheduled. These committees also will discuss potential sea turtle and sturgeon management measures. Those meetings are scheduled for:

Finfish Advisory Committee
11 a.m. July 25
N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Regional Office
943 Washington Square Mall, Washington
Contact: David Taylor, 252-808-8074 or

Sea Turtle Advisory Committee
6 p.m. July 26
N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Central District Office
5285 Highway 70 West, Morehead City
Contact: Chris Batsavage, 252-808-8009 or



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