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Marine Fisheries - News Release Archives Sept 2013

Marine Fisheries

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Release: Immediate
Date: September 4, 2013
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

Marine Fisheries Commission Takes Action on Several Issues

MOREHEAD CITY — The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission took action last week on several issues impacting commercial and recreational fishermen, including votes on two petitions for rulemaking.

The commission voted to:

  • Deny a petition for rulemaking that proposed reclassifying most internal coastal waters as secondary nursery areas. The effect of the proposed rule would have been to halt shrimp and crab trawling in North Carolina inshore waters. The petitioner has the right to seek judicial review of the decision.
     
  • Approve a petition for rulemaking that sought to prohibit the use of commercial fishing gear and certain types of recreational fishing gear on and around the Oriental Artificial Reef in the Neuse River. The decision begins a rulemaking process that will include fiscal analysis, notice of text in the state register, a public comment period and at least one public hearing. If approved, a final rule would not become effective until the spring of 2015.
     
  • Instruct the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ director to implement recommendations from a Bottlenose Dolphin Take Reduction Team, endorsed by the National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Regional Office, that prohibit setting small mesh gill nets within 100 yards of the beach at any tide. Two areas are to be exempted from the regulation: Cape Lookout to Bogue Inlet and from Carolina Beach Inlet to the South Carolina line. Strike nets also are to be exempted from the restriction.
     
  • Keep the current recreational and commercial size and possession limits for spotted seatrout pending a scheduled review of the Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan. The plan, adopted in February 2012, included a provision for implementing stricter regulations in February 2014, if needed, to reduce the daily recreational bag limit to three fish per person, implement a Dec. 15-Jan. 31 recreational closure, reduce the commercial trip limit to 25 fish and eliminate commercial closures.
     
  • Send a proposal for a Jan. 1, 2013 moratorium on commercial and recreational harvest of American and hickory shad to the Finfish and regional advisory committees for review.
     
  • Ask the Division of Marine Fisheries to design a study that compares closed trawling areas, specifically the Newport River, to open areas to determine the impact trawling has on sedimentation in primary and secondary nursery areas.
     
  • Delay review of the N.C. Red Drum Fishery Management Plan by one year, from July 2014 to July 2015, so the state may use the results of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southeast Data, Assessment and Review stock assessment slated for 2015.

The commission also heard an update on the state Division of Marine Fisheries’ application for an incidental take permit for sea turtles in the gill net fishery. The division is waiting to receive this permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service before deciding when to reopen waters to large mesh gill nets. The division hopes to receive the permit by mid-September, and requirements of the permit will impact the division’s decision on when to reopen the waters, including the Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area.

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Release: Immediate
Date: September 4, 2013
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021

Chris Lee named Marine Fisheries Enforcement Officer of the Year

MOREHEAD CITY — Marine Patrol Officer Chris Lee has been chosen to receive the 2012 Marine Fisheries Enforcement Officer of the Year award from the Governor's Conservation Achievement Awards Program.

Lee will receive an engraved statuette, a lapel pin, and a certificate commemorating this achievement Sept. 7 at the North Carolina Wildlife Federation’s 50th Annual Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards Reception and Banquet in Cary.
Lee, 31, was nominated for the honor by fellow officers in his district.

“Chris has a genuine desire to make sure that our marine resources are protected,” said Sgt. Brian Long, Lee’s supervisor. “He’s very proactive in making sure our marine resources are protected. He’s always one of the first ones to stand up and volunteer, even if it’s a duty that is less than desirable.”

According to his fellow officers, Lee has a knack for searching out and finding significant fisheries violations.

“He keys in on things quicker when he knows something is not right,” Long said.

Lee has made significant cases involving the illegal use of gill nets, illegal sales of seafood, unlicensed charter boats, and larceny of commercial fishing gear. He has also participated in undercover operations ranging from the illegal sale of seafood to the recreational taking of undersized and over-the-limit of red drum and spotted sea trout.

Lee attributes his talent for finding violations to his childhood experiences. Originally from Colerain, Lee was the son of a deputy sheriff. He spent countless hours fishing in the Chowan River for white perch, catfish and striped bass and saw the once thriving river herring industry when it was in its prime. In his free time, he helped his best friend’s father fish pound nets, crab pots and gill nets. It was during a family vacation to Kill Devil Hills, that Lee first spotted a N.C. Marine Patrol 26-foot Regulator patrol boat moored nearby.

“That was the first time I’d ever heard of Marine Patrol,” said Lee, who was 17 at the time.

The boat piqued his interested and caused him to begin researching what Marine Patrol officers do. Little did he know that years later he would patrol that same area in that same patrol boat.

Lee joined the Marine Patrol since 2008. Prior to that, he served in the N.C. National Guard in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and later joined the Edenton Police Department.

During his military service, Lee began working toward a degree in criminal justice that he would later complete after joining the Marine Patrol. He is certified as a general instructor and specialized firearms instructor through the N.C. Criminal Justice and Training Standards Commission. He is also certified as an Armament Systems and Procedures baton and handcuff instructor and a CPR, first aid and automated external defibrillator instructor. He is field trainer for newly hired officers.

Lee lives in Kill Devil Hills with his wife, Melissa, and son, Sonny.

A high resolution photo of Lee can be downloaded at: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/ncmp-chris-lee. Contact Lee for an interview at 252-325-0749.

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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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