News Release Archives - March 2014
Date: March 27, 2014
Contact: Patricia Smith
New Shellfish Harvester, Dealer Requirements to go Into Effect April 1
MOREHEAD CITY — New regulations will go into effect April 1 that stipulate how quickly shellfish must go from harvest to refrigeration.
The regulations are meant to prevent post-harvest growth of naturally-occurring Vibrio bacteria that can cause serious illness in humans. These bacteria can multiply rapidly when the shellfish is exposed to air temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
During open harvest season, the new regulations require fishermen to record the time of start of harvest on a tag affixed to the shellfish container, and deliver the product to a licensed shellfish dealer within 12 hours of the time on the tag. The dealer is required to record the time he receives the shellfish, and place the product under mechanical refrigeration within two hours of receipt.
Regulations for oysters harvested from leases during closed season will remain largely the same as last year, except leaseholders will no longer need a separate permit to harvest with a closed season certification. In April and May, the oysters must be delivered to the dealer within 12 hours of the start of harvest, and the dealer must refrigerate the oysters within two hours of receipt. June through September, the oysters must be delivered to a licensed shellfish dealer within five hours of the start of harvest. The dealer must place the product under mechanical refrigeration within five hours of the start of harvest.
The new regulations are required by the National Shellfish Sanitation Program, which is a program through which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration works with states to assure the safety of molluscan shellfish, such as oysters and clams.
The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries aggressively monitors and enforces shellfish harvest areas to ensure consumers are provided with a safe and quality product. However, naturally occurring bacteria, such as Vibrio parahaemolyticus, can be found in oysters and clams from approved growing areas. When shellfish are exposed to air, they close. Bacteria inside the animal can multiply when the oysters or clams are exposed to warm air temperatures for a long time. If the bacteria multiply to very high levels, they can cause moderate to severe gastrointestinal illness in the general population.
People with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to Vibrio bacteria illness and should always thoroughly cook all shellfish before eating it.
While there have been no outbreaks of illness caused by eating North Carolina oysters or clams, several outbreaks caused by these bacteria have occurred along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts during the past year.
For more specifics on the regulations see Proclamations SS-1-2014 and SS-2-2014 at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamations.
For more information, contact Steve Murphey with the Division of Marine Fisheries’ Shellfish Sanitation and Recreational Water Quality Section at 252-808-8155 or Steve.Murphey@ncdenr.gov.
Date: March 27, 2014
Contact: Patricia Smith
New Fisheries Rules go Into Effect April 1
MOREHEAD CITY — Several new marine fisheries rules will go into effect April 1.
The rules will:
- Give the director of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries proclamation authority to implement National Shellfish Sanitation Program harvester and dealer requirements for the protection of public health;
- Give the division director proclamation authority to set size, recreational bag, commercial trip, gear, season and time restrictions on the taking of sheepshead if needed to maintain a sustainable harvest;
- Designate new seed oyster management areas at Possum Bay and Swan Point in New River;
- Clarify what organizations and activities are eligible to receive Scientific and Educational Activity permits and Coastal Recreational Fishing License Exemption permits from the Division of Marine Fisheries;
- Clarify that the exemptions to the general 4-inch size limit on fish only apply to finfish;
- Repeal a rule on hybrid striped bass culture that references outdated N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission rules;
- Implement an amendment to the Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan by:
- Broadening the authority of the director of the Division of Marine Fisheries to manage the blue crab fishery by proclamation under an adaptive management strategy. This includes the authority to implement more restrictive measures for the use of pots; restrict means and methods for managing the use of escape rings; and designate additional areas as crab spawning sanctuaries and extend the time that harvest restrictions are in place for all crab spawning sanctuaries.
- Clarifying existing rules and relocating rules in the rulebook for better organization.
- Codifying current proclamations, including one for the taking of mature female blue crabs with pots, reducing the exempted area for the Pamlico Sound Outer Banks region, but providing more clearly delineated boundaries for this area and the Newport River area. Other codifications include establishing a dividing line in Pamlico Sound for the taking of hard blue crabs using trawls of certain mesh sizes; closing the lower Broad Creek area (Neuse River) to crab pots June 1 through Nov. 30; and using the existing no trawl line along the Outer Banks in Pamlico Sound as the new boundary line where closure of escape rings to take small mature females is allowed.
- Using the type of bait instead of pot mesh size to define escape ring requirements in a crab pot.
- Requiring terrapin excluder devices in crab pots at a later date, after development and approval of criteria by the Marine Fisheries Commission.
- Opening eight non-pot areas (long haul areas) in the Pungo River to the use of pots, but keeping the Long Point non-pot area in Pamlico River closed to the use of pots.
The new rules will be available in a supplement to the June 1, 2013, N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission rulebook and posted on the division webpage at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/rules-and-regulations.
For more information, contact Catherine Blum, rulemaking coordinator, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, at 252-808-8014 or Catherine.Blum@ncdenr.gov.
Date: March 19, 2014
Phone: 866-425-7627 (option 2)
NOAA Fisheries Seeking Public Comment on Proposed Rule Changes to the Red Snapper and Grouper-Tilefish Individual Fishing Quota Programs
NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on a proposed rule for the Gulf of Mexico reef fish fishery.The proposed rule published in the Federal Register on March 19, 2014 (79 FR 15287). The public comment period ends on April 18, 2014.
The rule proposes administrative revisions to the red snapper and grouper-tilefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) programs that would improve enforcement, administration, and monitoring of the programs and clarify existing regulatory requirements. The proposed rule would make numerous changes to requirements for landing notifications, offloading, landing transactions, and administrative changes. For detailed information on the proposed rule please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions on the NOAA Fisheries Web site.
ELEMENTS OF THE RULE
The proposed rule includes changes to landing notifications which would:
- Allow allocation to be held in either a vessel account or the linked shareholder account at the time the landing notification is submitted.
- Extend the landing notification reporting window from 12 to 24 hours.
- Require that a vessel must land within 30 minutes after the time given in the landing notification, unless an authorized law enforcement officer has authorized a landing prior to the notification time.
- NOAA Fisheries is specifically interested in input from fishermen regarding if 30 minutes is a sufficient window of time to land after the time specified on the advance notice of landing. If it is not a sufficient window of time to land, NMFS is interested in knowing if 1 hour would be sufficient for landing.
- Specify that any changes to a landing notification (time of landing, landing location, dealer, or change in estimated pounds) would require a new landing notification which would supersede a previous notification.
- Allow vessels to land prior to a 3-hour notification if an authorized law enforcement officer is present at the landing site and authorizes the owner or operator of the vessel to land early.
The proposed rule includes changes to offloading which would:
- Authorize offloads beginning before 6 p.m. to continue after 6 p.m. if an authorized law enforcement officer is present and authorizes the offload to continue.
- Require vessels to offload IFQ species within 72 hours of landing.
- NOAA Fisheries is specifically interested in receiving input from fishermen and dealers regarding the sufficiency of the 72-hour allotted timeframe for completing an offload or whether 96 hours would be a better timeframe for completing an offload after landing.
The proposed rule includes changes to landing transactions which would:
- Prohibit the deduction of ice and water weight when reporting an IFQ landing transaction.
- Require a dealer to complete a landing transaction for IFQ species on the day of offload. The intent of this regulation is to improve the timeliness and accuracy of landing transactions.
The proposed rule includes administrative changes which would:
- Allow IFQ account holders to close an IFQ account by submitting a Close Account Form to NOAA Fisheries. Accounts would only be closed if they no longer hold shares and allocation, or a dealer account has paid all cost recovery fees. If an account holder is deceased, a death certificate would also need to be provided with the Close Account Form.
- Allow NOAA Fisheries IFQ Customer Service staff to close an IFQ account if no landing transactions or IFQ transfers have been completed by the IFQ account holder in at least 1 year.
- Clarify that fish must be sold to a federally permitted dealer and dealers must report all landings and their actual ex-vessel value via the IFQ online Web site. These regulations ensure all landings and sales of IFQ species are accounted for and fish are not kept by a captain and/or crew without first being reported.
- Clarify that a dealer may only receive IFQ fish that have a corresponding transaction approval code. This is intended to improve accountability of the IFQ species that are transported to a dealer by a vehicle or a trailered vessel.
- Remove a phrase stating NOAA Fisheries will "add other methods of complying with the advance notice of landing requirement" because NOAA Fisheries has already identified numerous methods for submitting landing notifications.
- Remove regulatory language that prevents dealers from completing a landing transaction if a landing notification is not submitted.
- Clarify and explicitly state that IFQ species must be landed at an approved landing location.
Request for comments
Written comments on this proposed rule must be received no later than April 18, 2014, to be considered by NOAA Fisheries. All comments received by NOAA Fisheries will be addressed in the final rule. Electronic copies of the proposed rule may be obtained from the NOAA Fisheries Web site http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/lapp_dm or the e-Rule Making Portal www.regulations.gov.
How to submit comments
You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
- Electronic Submissions: To submit comments through the federal e-rulemaking portal: www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0122 and click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
- Mail: Submit written comments to Catherine Hayslip, NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office, Sustainable Fisheries Division, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
Instructions: Comments received through means not specified in this bulletin may not be considered by NOAA Fisheries. All comments received are part of the public record and will generally be posted to www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. NOAA Fisheries will accept anonymous comments. All comments received by NOAA Fisheries specific to the proposed rule will be addressed in the final rule.
Date: March 11, 2014
Contact: Amber Von Harten
North Carolina Community Port Meetings Kick Off on March 17 as Part of the Council's Visioning Project
Ideas Needed From Fishery Stakeholders to Create a Long-Term Plan for Snapper Grouper Fishery
Do you have new ideas for managing the snapper grouper fishery?
As part of the Council's Visioning Project, the Council is looking for fresh ideas and strategies to reach the management goals for the fishery. To collect stakeholder ideas, staff and Council members will be traveling throughout the South Atlantic to host informal public meetings with fishermen to gather ideas for future management of the snapper grouper fishery. These informal meetings, called 'port meetings,' will provide fishermen and others with fishery interests an opportunity to voice their ideas in a round-table discussion. Input received during these meetings will be used to help the Council develop a long-term vision and strategic plan for managing the snapper grouper fishery.
Sign Up to Participate Today!
Port Meeting Schedule:
Meetings will be held in fishing communities throughout N.C., S.C., Ga. and Fla. between February and April. The full meeting schedule is available on-line at the 2014 Port Meeting Schedule page of the Council's website.
Note: RSVP is requested if you would like to attend a meeting. The full meeting schedule and RSVP links are available at the 2014 Port Meeting Schedule page.
The North Carolina port meetings are scheduled as follows:
March 17, 2014
10:00 AM - RSVP
Cape Fear Restaurant
101 Bay Street
Southport, NC 28461
March 17, 2014
1:30 PM - RSVP
Wing & Company
4764 Main Street
Shallotte, NC 28459
March 18, 2014
1:00 PM - RSVP
2004 HWY 172
Sneads Ferry, NC
March 19, 2014
6:00 PM - RSVP
Sanitary Fish Market & Restaurant
501 Evans Street
Morehead City, NC 28557
March 19, 2014
6:00 PM - RSVP
Raleigh Country Club
400 Donald Ross Drive
Raleigh, NC 27610
March 20, 2014
10:00 AM - RSVP
Wanchese Community Center
295 Old Schoolhouse Road
Wanchese, NC 27981
March 20, 2014
3:00 PM - RSVP
Hatteras Community Center
57689 Highway 12
Hatteras, NC 27943
|For additional information about the Visioning Project and port meetings, contact
Amber Von Harten at:
Can't attend a meeting? Written input and ideas will also be accepted through the Council's website through the port meeting online comment form!
Date: March 3, 2014
Contact: Susan Gerhart
NOAA Fisheries Seeks Public Comment on an Amendment to the Fishery Management Plan for King and Spanish Mackerel
Comment period ends May 2, 2014
NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on Amendment 20A to the Fishery Management Plan for the Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region. If approved, this amendment would modify the management plan to include changes to the coastal migratory pelagics permit requirements and restrictions, including changes to the sales provisions and income requirements.
For the Gulf of Mexico, the amendment would add a prohibition on the sale of king and Spanish mackerel caught under the bag limit unless those fish are either caught on a for-hire trip and the vessel has both a for-hire and commercial vessel permit, or the fish are caught as part of a state-permitted tournament and the proceeds from the sale are donated to charity.
For the Atlantic region, the amendment would add a prohibition on the sale of king and Spanish mackerel caught under the bag limit unless the fish are caught as part of a state-permitted tournament and the proceeds from the sale are donated to charity.
The amendment would also remove the income qualification requirement for king and Spanish mackerel commercial permits from the management plan.
The Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils have submitted Amendment 20A to NOAA Fisheries for review, approval, and implementation. The Notice of Availability for public comment on this amendment published in the
Federal Register on March 3, 2014.
For more information on Amendment 20A please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions on the NOAA Fisheries Web site.
Request for Comments
NOAA Fisheries must receive comments on this amendment no later than
May 2, 2014. We will address all comments specifically directed to the amendment. You may obtain elcommectronic copies of the amendment from the NOAA Fisheries Web site: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_sa/cmp/2014/am20a/index.html or the e-Rule Making Portal www.regulation.gov.
How to Submit Comments
You may submit comments on this document, identified by "NOAA-NMFS-2013-0168", by one of the following methods:
- Electronic Submission via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2013-0168, click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. NOAA Fisheries will accept anonymous comments (enter "N/A" in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). You can also attach additional files (up to 10MB) in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
- Mail written comments to Susan Gerhart, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on the regulations.gov website without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible.