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Marine Fisheries - News Release Archives - July 2014

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Release: Immediate
Date: July 31, 2014
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

Estuarine Gill Net Permits Required Sept. 1, Available Friday

MOREHEAD CITY — Beginning Sept. 1, all fishermen who use anchored gill nets in the coastal rivers and sounds of North Carolina will be required to hold an Estuarine Gill Net Permit.

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will begin issuing these permits, free of charge, Friday, Aug. 1. Fishermen may submit an application for a permit at any division license office during normal office hours or through the mail.

The Estuarine Gill Net Permit will be required for anchored large-mesh and small-mesh gill nets set for commercial or recreational purposes. It applies to those who set nets under a Standard Commercial Fishing License, Retired Standard Commercial Fishing License or Recreational Commercial Gear License.

The permit is not required for runaround, strike or drop gill nets that are set and then immediately retrieved. It is also not required for drift gill nets that are used to capture fish while they are moved by water currents and are actively fished and attended from deployment through retrieval.

The permit is not required to set gill nets in the ocean.

Fishermen convicted of using anchored gill nets in internal coastal waters without holding an Estuarine Gill Net Permit could be subject to a Class A1 misdemeanor.

The permit was developed to meet requirements of incidental take permits for sea turtles and Atlantic sturgeon, issued to the state by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The incidental take permits require the division to identify all participants in North Carolina’s estuarine anchored gill net fishery.

It is also intended to improve fisherman compliance with regulations that require them to take division observers on board for fishing trips. The incidental take permits require minimum observer coverage of 7 percent (with a goal of 10 percent) for large-mesh gill nets and minimum observer coverage of 1 percent (with a goal of 2 percent) for small-mesh gill nets in different management units by season. Failure to comply with the observer coverage requirement could result in closure of North Carolina’s gill net fishery.

Refusing to allow an observer to observe a gill net trip will result in revocation of the fisherman’s Estuarine Gill Net Permit.

Fishermen may download an Estuarine Gill Net Permit application and answers to frequently asked questions here. Fishermen may also request an application through the mail by calling 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632.

For more specific regulations pertaining to the permit, see Proclamation M-24-2014 at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamations.

For more information about the permits or requirements of the incidental take permits, contact Jacob Boyd with the division’s Observer Program at 252-808-8088 or Jacob.Boyd@ncdenr.gov.

nr-36-2014


Release: Immediate
Date: July 24, 2014
Contact: South Atlantic Fishery Management Council
Phone: 727-824-5305

REMINDER: 2014 Commercial and Recreational Red Snapper Fishing Seasons in the South Atlantic Federal Waters

This is a reminder about the commercial and recreational fishing seasons in South Atlantic federal waters for red snapper. Unlike the previous two weekends, the recreational fishing season for the upcoming weekend (beginning July 25, 2014) will be open on Friday and Saturday only and will not be open on Sunday. For the upcoming weekend, the recreational fishing season for red snapper in South Atlantic waters will open on Friday, July 25 (at 12:01 a.m.) and close on Sunday, July 27 (at 12:01 a.m.). During the open recreational season, the bag limit is one fish per person per day and there is no minimum size limit for red snapper.

The commercial red snapper season opened at 12:01 a.m. on July 14, 2014. The commercial season will end when the annual catch limit is projected to be met. Another Federal Register notice and Fishery Bulletin will be published if and when the commercial annual catch limit for red snapper is projected to be met. During the open commercial season, the daily trip limit is 75 pounds gutted weight and there is no minimum size limit for red snapper. If severe weather conditions exist, NOAA Fisheries will announce via NOAA Weather Radio and a Fishery Bulletin any change in the red snapper fishing seasons.

For additional information regarding the South Atlantic red snapper annual catch limits and recreational season length projection report, please visit: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/documents/pdfs/sa_rs_acl_season_projections.pdf. For more information, refer to the Frequently Asked Questions.

This bulletin provides only a summary of the existing regulations. Full regulations can be found in the Federal Register.

This announcement is forwarded as a courtesy of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

Relevant copies are also posted on the Council's website at www.safmc.net>

FB14-053


Release: Immediate
Date: July 23, 2014
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

State Implements Stricter Gill Net Regulations in Albemarle and
Currituck Sound Areas to Avoid Closure

MOREHEAD CITY — Beginning Friday, fishermen who set large-mesh gill nets in the Albemarle and Currituck sounds and tributaries will be limited to overnight soaks.

“This action is being taken to avoid altogether closing the waters in these areas to anchored large-mesh gill nets,” said Louis Daniel, director of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries. The regulations will also apply to Croatan and Roanoke sounds and tributaries when they reopen to anchored large-mesh gill nets.

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries received a warning letter from the National Marine Fisheries Service Office of Protected Resources after failing to meet the 7 percent minimum observer coverage for these waters in the spring fishing season, as required by the Sea Turtle Incidental Take Permit. The letter stated that failure to comply with the permit conditions could result in enforcement action, and it strongly encouraged the division to meet the permit requirements for the summer season.

Currently, fishermen in these waters are required to fish their large mesh gill nets at least once by noon each day, but there are no other regulations that require them to fish their nets at a specified time.

The lack of undesignated fishing times, insufficient staff resources, funding issues, weather conditions and stiff resistance from fishermen, has made it difficult for division staff to observe the number of fishing trips necessary to satisfy the conditions of the Sea Turtle Incidental Take Permit.

“Unfortunately, observers have noticed fishermen purposely avoiding fishing their nets when division staff is around and, in some cases, fishermen have pointedly refused to take observers on board,” Daniel said.

To remedy this problem, fishermen will be required to remove anchored large-mesh gill nets from these waters between one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset each day, as is already required in many other water bodies of the state.

“We believe the implementation of soak times, combined with an upcoming gill net permit to be required Sept. 1, will resolve this issue,” said Daniel. “But it is critical that fishermen comply with these regulations, including taking observers, if the anchored large-mesh gill net fishery is to continue in these waters.”

The National Marine Fisheries Service has agreed to this approach.

For specific regulations, see Proclamation M-22-2014 at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamations.

For more information, contact Jacob Boyd with the Observer Program at 252-808-8088 or Jacob.Boyd@ncdenr.gov.

nr-35-2014

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

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