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Marine Fisheries - News Release Archives - Oct 2014

Marine Fisheries

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Release: Immediate
Date: Oct. 1, 2014
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

Coastal Waters in Northern Part of State to Close to
Anchored Large-Mesh Gill Nets

MOREHEAD CITY — Coastal waters in the northern part of the state will close to anchored, large-mesh gill nets at 1 p.m. Friday.

This action is being taken to avoid a mandatory closure that would last through next summer.

The closure impacts all of Management Unit A under the state’s Sea Turtle Incidental Take Permit. This management unit encompasses the Albemarle, Currituck, Croatan and Roanoke sounds and their tributaries.

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries observed one Kemp’s ridley captured in a gill net in the eastern part of Albemarle Sound this morning. The sea turtle was released alive.

This brings the total number of sea turtle interactions with gill nets in this management unit to three.

Portions of the Roanoke and Croatan sounds closed earlier this week after a green sea turtle was captured Friday near Oregon Inlet and released alive. The other sea turtle was captured earlier in the month near Columbia, but got out of the net before the species was identified.

Under the Sea Turtle Incidental Take Permit, if one more take of sea turtles of any species is observed in these waters, the entire management unit must close until Sept. 1, 2015.

The waters will not reopen for at least two weeks to allow sea turtles to leave the area.

For more specifics on open and closed areas, see Proclamation M-33-2014 at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamations.

North Carolina’s estuarine gill net fishery is managed under incidental take permits for sea turtles and Atlantic sturgeon, issued to the state by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The permits require observer coverage. The permits authorize limited takes of these species, listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, as part of conservation plans.

The conservation plans divide the state’s internal coastal waters into six management units. These units are closely monitored for interactions with sea turtles and Atlantic sturgeon. An annual number of allowed interactions with each species is assigned to each gear type in each management unit. If the number of interactions is approached, the management unit must close for the remainder of the season or year.

For more information, contact Chris Batsavage, the division’s Protected Resources Section chief, at 252-808-8009 or Chris.Batsavage@ncdenr.gov.

nr-54-2014


Release: Immediate
Date: Oct. 1, 2014
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

Public Comment Sought on Proposed Rules

MOREHEAD CITY — The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission is accepting public comment on a slate of proposed rule changes that pertain to various issues to the shrimp, river herring, eel and bay scallop fishery management plans and to establish a for-hire logbook requirement.

The commission will hold the following public hearings on the proposed rule changes:

Oct. 28 at 6 p.m.
N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Washington Regional Office
943 Washington Square Mall, U.S. 17, Washington

Oct. 29 at 6 p.m.
N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Wilmington Regional Office
127 Cardinal Drive Extension, Wilmington

The public may also comment on the proposed rules in writing to Catherine Blum, Rulemaking Coordinator, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557 or send comments by email to Catherine.Blum@ncdenr.gov or fax to 252-726-0254. The public comment period will close at 5 p.m. Dec. 1.

Proposed rules impacting for-hire fishing operations and ocean fishing piers include:

  • Eliminating the current For-Hire Permit and Coastal Recreational Fishing License blanket licenses and replacing them with a captain’s for-hire license, a blanket for-hire vessel license, and a non-blanket for-hire vessel license.
  • Implementing a for-hire endorsement on the commercial fishing vessel registration and requiring weekly logbook reporting from for-hire licensees.
  • Combining two separate ocean pier licenses into one Ocean Fishing Pier License with the same net cost.

Proposed rules implementing a draft amendment to the shrimp plan include:

  • Modifying the definition of mesh length to apply to diamond-mesh nets, as well as square-mesh nets in support of a management strategy to require an additional bycatch reduction device in all skimmer and otter trawls, which can include a square-mesh T-90 panel.
  • Codifying an existing management strategy that prohibits the use of trawl nets, except skimmer trawls, upstream of the N.C. 172 Bridge over the New River in Onslow County.
  • Clarifying the Division of Marine Fisheries director’s proclamation authority for shrimp harvest restrictions;
  • Establishing a maximum combined headrope length of 220 feet in all internal coastal waters where there are no existing maximum combined headrope requirements, allowing for a phase-out period until Jan. 1, 2017.
  • Allowing cast-netting of shrimp in all areas otherwise closed to shrimping and increase the harvest limit to 4 quarts, heads-on, or 2 ½ quarts, heads-off.
  • Prohibiting shrimp trawling in the Intracoastal Waterway channel from the Sunset Beach Bridge to the South Carolina line, including Shallotte River, Eastern Channel and lower Calabash River, to protect small shrimp.

Proposed rules implementing a draft amendment to the river herring plan include:

  • Eliminating the discretionary harvest and season.
  • Removing blueback herring and alewife from the exemption for possession of mutilated finfish.
  • Limiting possession of river herring from sources other than North Carolina coastal fishing waters to less than or equal to 6 inches while fishing or boating.
  • Changing the boundary coordinates of the Anadromous Fish Spawning Area to reflect companion changes previously made to the Albemarle Sound and Roanoke River management areas.
  • Relocating the description and boundaries of the Albemarle Sound and Chowan River River Herring Management Areas from Subchapter 03J to Subchapter 03R in the rulebook for improved organization and public clarity.

Proposed rules implementing Addendum III to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Fishery Management Plan for American Eel include:

  • Implementing a minimum mesh length requirement of one-half by one-half inch mesh for eel pots, allowing for a phase-in period until Jan. 1, 2017.
  • Increasing the American eel size limit to 9 inches, decreasing the recreational bag limit to 25 fish and implementing a Sept. 1 - Dec. 31 season closure, unless the eels are taken with baited pots.

Proposed rules to implement a draft amendment to the bay scallop plan include:

  • Changes in support of a management strategy to encourage the cultivation of bay scallops consistent with other shellfish species grown on private bottom that:
  • Exempt leaseholders and aquaculture operations from the public bottom commercial season, gear, and harvest limits for cultured bay scallops.
  • Allow the sale of cultured bay scallops for further grow out.
  • Elimination of the Aug. 1 through Sept. 15 bay scallop season and lowering the maximum daily commercial harvest possession limit to be consistent with adaptive management trip limit measures.

Other proposed rules include:

  • Updating and relocating a rule that provides the Division of Marine Fisheries director’s authority to issue proclamations to resolve user conflicts concerning public trust resources.
  • Updating the name of a canal in Brunswick County.
  • Removing the permit fee for the Atlantic Ocean Striped Bass Commercial Gear Permit, which is now provided in statute, and eliminating the Nov. 1 deadline to purchase the annual permit.
  • Correcting an error in the inland/coastal waters boundary line in Queens Creek, Onslow County.
  • Correcting grammatical errors and spacing in several rules.
  • Modifying rules pertaining to the Division of Marine Fisheries director’s proclamation authority for consistency.

The Marine Fisheries Commission is scheduled to vote on the proposed rules at its Feb. 18-20 meeting. If approved, the rules could take effect as early as May 1.

For more information on the proposed rules, go to http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/mfc-proposed-rules-links or contact Blum at 252-808-8014 or Catherine.Blum@ncdenr.gov.

nr-53-2014

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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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