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Marine Fisheries - News Release Archives - Sept. 2012

Marine Fisheries

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Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021
Release: Immediate
Date: Sept. 10, 2012

CORRECTION: Corrects dates of Core Sound gill net opening in 8th graph in Aug. 28 news release

Marine Fisheries Commission Looks at Issues
Surrounding Shrimp, Flounder

MOREHEAD CITY — The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission took action at its August meeting on two of North Carolina’s most popular seafoods: shrimp and flounder.

The commission voted at its meeting last week to seek public comment on a draft revision to the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan. It also voted on several management measures impacting the flounder gill net fishery.

The draft revision to the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan recommends continuing research on the shrimp trawl fishery. However, it does not recommend changes in management of this fishery at this time.

Public comment on this draft revision will be taken in conjunction with several advisory committee meetings. Dates, times and locations for these meetings will be announced later. After receiving public comment and a review by the advisory committees, the commission will decide at its November meeting whether to proceed with the revision or switch to an amendment process. The amendment process includes convening an advisory committee and exploring changes in management strategies.

The commission also voted on several issues pertaining to the flounder gill net fishery, including a large mesh gill net yardage reduction in the Albemarle Sound and other areas that had been exempt from stricter yardage limits under a sea turtle lawsuit settlement agreement.

The commission voted to reduce the maximum large mesh gill net yardage allowed in these waters from 3,000 yards per fishing operation to 2,000 yards per fishing operation and to request that fishermen fish their nets as early as possible in the morning, but no later than noon every 24 hours. The motion passed with no objection (commissioner Chris Elkins abstained from the vote).

The action was taken as a proactive measure to reduce Atlantic sturgeon interactions in the estuarine gill net fishery. Atlantic sturgeon was listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act on April 6. While sea turtles are not usually caught in gill nets in these areas, there is evidence that Atlantic sturgeon are.

The commission also voted to reopen southern Core Sound, Back Sound, The Straits and North River to the use of large mesh gill nets Oct. 15-May 7. These waters closed to large mesh gill nets May 13 for the protection of sea turtles. The opening is with the understanding that all North Carolina waters will close to the harvest of southern flounder during December, as they have for the past several years.

Additionally, the commission agreed to delay the opening of the Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area to mid September. These waters are under a federal closure beginning Sept. 1, but can reopen under an incidental take permit that allows for a limited number of interactions with sea turtles.

In other business, the commission voted to:

  • Provide comment for a study on whether to reorganize the state’s fisheries management agencies, recommending that the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries remain an autonomous agency under a natural resources department.
  • Send a draft amendment to the Oyster Fishery Management Plan for review by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations. The proposed amendment creates seed oyster management areas at Possum Bay and Swan Point in the mouth of the New River.
  • Send a draft amendment to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan out for public comment and review by the regional and Finfish advisory committees. The draft amendment updates the document so that it is in line with current regulations under a sea turtle lawsuit settlement agreement.
  • Re-elect Anna Beckwith as vice-chair of the commission.
  • Move forward with the administrative process for two rules. One of the rules will require mandatory electronic trip ticket reporting for large-scale finfish dealers. The other rule will change the way Marine Patrol officers measure the harvest limit for recreationally-caught shrimp from the number of shrimp to a volumetric measure.
  • Mirror the regulations implemented last year for the commercial ocean striped bass fishery this coming season.
  • Direct the Division of Marine Fisheries to explore getting more flexibility in state laws for developing limited entry fisheries subject to federal fishery management plans and quotas.
  • Approve a five-year schedule for development of fishery management plans.
  • Approve an annual report on the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan.

Finally, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall presided over a swearing-in ceremony for newly appointed commissioner Kelly Darden and reappointed commissioners Mikey Daniels and Anna Beckwith. Photos of this ceremony can be found at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/082212-mfc-photos.

For more information, contact Nancy Fish in the Marine Fisheries Commission Office, at 252-808-8021 or Nancy.Fish@ncdenr.gov.

nr-32-2012


Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021
Release: Immediate
Date: Sept. 10, 2012

Public Comment Sought on Shrimp, Southern Flounder
and American Shad Management

MOREHEAD CITY — Fishermen will get a chance to comment on the future of shrimp, southern flounder and American shad management in North Carolina at a series of public meetings to be held in the coming weeks.

Public comment will be accepted on a draft revision to the N.C. Shrimp Fishery Management Plan, a draft amendment to the N.C. Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan and a draft N.C. American Shad Sustainable Fishery Plan.

The draft revision to the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan recommends continuing research on the shrimp trawl fishery. However, it does not recommend changes in management of this fishery at this time. After receiving public comment and a review by the advisory committees, the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will decide at its November meeting whether to proceed with the revision or switch to an amendment process. The amendment process includes convening an advisory committee and exploring changes in management strategies.

Since 2010, commercial southern flounder management has revolved around reducing sea turtle interactions with fishing gear. Protected species management measures have changed many times in the last two years, making it difficult for scientists to assess the impact of harvest restrictions on southern flounder stocks and for commercial fishermen to plan for upcoming fishing seasons. While protected species management measures may vary in the future, the draft amendment to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan provides options for sustainable commercial southern flounder harvest that are not tied to protected species management measures.

Online copies of the draft shrimp revision and draft southern flounder amendment can be found at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/fmps-under-development.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is requiring all states to adopt an American Shad Sustainable Fishery Plan in order to continue this fishery. North Carolina’s draft plan includes fisheries for the Albemarle/Roanoke, Tar/Pamlico, Neuse and Cape Fear River systems and outlines sustainability triggers for each system. The plan also contains management recommendations for the 2013 fishing season.

An online copy of the draft American shad plan can be found at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/fmp-atlantic-states-marine-fisheries-commission-proposals.

Comment periods on all three plans will be held in conjunction with Marine Fisheries Commission regional advisory committee meetings set for:

Southern Advisory Committee
Sept. 19 at 4 p.m.
N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Wilmington Regional Office
127 Cardinal Drive Extension, Wilmington

Northern Advisory Committee
Sept. 27 at 4 p.m.
Vernon G. James Research & Extension Center
207 Research Station Road, Plymouth






Additionally, public comment will be taken on the draft revision to the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan in conjunction with meetings of the Shellfish/Crustacean and Habitat and Water Quality advisory committees set for:

Shellfish/Crustacean
6 p.m., Oct. 2
Craven County Cooperative Extension Office
300 Industrial Drive, New Bern

Habitat and Water Quality
1:30 p.m. Oct. 2
N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Washington Regional Office
943 Washington Square Mall, Washington






Also, public comment on the draft amendment to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan and the Sustainable Fisheries Plan for American Shad will be taken in conjunction with the Finfish Advisory Committee set for:

Finfish
10:30 a.m., Sept. 26
N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Central District Office
5285 Highway 70 West, Morehead City

For more information, contact Nancy Fish in the Marine Fisheries Commission office at 252-808-8021 or Nancy.Fish@ncdenr.gov.

nr-36-2012

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

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