Date: July 3, 2013
Contact: Patricia Smith
Waters in Southern Areas of State to Close to Large-Mesh Gill Net Fishing
MOREHEAD CITY — Internal waters from the N.C. 58 Bridge in Bogue Sound to the South Carolina state line will close to large-mesh gill net fishing Sunday evening.
The action is being taken to protect threatened and endangered sea turtles during the summer season.
Since late May, the division’s Observer Program has observed six interactions between large-mesh gill nets and sea turtles in these waters. The interactions include two live endangered Kemps Ridley sea turtles, three live green sea turtles and one live sea turtle of unknown species (it fell out of the net before it could be identified).
The interactions were observed in Topsail and Stump sounds and in the New and White Oak rivers.
Large-mesh gill net fishing in these waters is subject to management measures resulting from a lawsuit settlement agreement between the state and the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.
The state is also seeking a statewide Incidental Take Permit under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act for the gill net fisheries in internal waters. These permits allow for limited takes of threatened or endangered species in an otherwise lawful activity.
The closure takes effect one hour before sunset Sunday and applies to set gill nets between 4 inches and 6 ½ inches stretched mesh. For more specific regulations, see Proclamation M-20-2013 at: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamations.
The closure does not apply to run-around, strike, or drop nets used to surround a school of fish that are immediately retrieved.
The closure will remain in place until at least Sept. 1.
For more information, contact the division’s Protected Resources Section Chief Chris Batsavage at 252-808-8009 or Chris.Batsavage@ncdenr.gov .