Date: April, 2 2013
Contact: Patricia Smith
New Web Pages Highlight Marine Fisheries Observer Program
MOREHEAD CITY — New web pages on the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries website show how the state is working to collect information on what does not get brought to the docks in commercial and recreational fisheries.
The pages give an overview of the division’s Observer Program, which is designed to collect at-sea information about the commercial and recreational catch, including information on discards.
Technicians or Marine Patrol officers observe large and small mesh gill net and recreational hook and line fisheries either onboard fishermen’s vessels or from a division vessel operated in the vicinity of the fishing activity. They record data on different aspects of the fishing activity.
While there are reporting requirements for commercial seafood landings and surveys that show what recreational fishermen catch, data on discards has often been a missing piece in fisheries information. By collecting data on discards, scientists are able to include this information in stock assessments, which are used in fishery management decisions.
Observers also collect data on interactions with sea turtles and other protected species. This allows state and federal fisheries managers to better evaluate and control impacts of these fisheries on protected species.
Fishermen are required by N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission rule, the federal Endangered Species Act and the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act to carry observers on board when asked. Failure to do so may lead to enforcement action against the fisherman and could close the fishery for all users.
To view the Observer Program pages, go to http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/observers-program.
For more information, contact Observer Program Coordinator Jacob Boyd at 252-808-8088 or Jacob.Boyd@ncdenr.gov.