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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Spotted Seatrout Regulations

Marine Fisheries

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Release: Immediate
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: (252) 726-7021
Date: Nov. 7,  2011

New Spotted Seatrout Regulations to Take Effect Next Week

MOREHEAD CITY – New regulations will go into effect Nov. 14 for those who fish for spotted seatrout in coastal waters of the state.

The N.C. Marine Fisheries commission adopted these measures at its meeting last week as short-term measures to address overfishing in the spotted seatrout fishery. The regulations will:

  • Reduce the daily recreational bag limit from 6 fish per person to 4 fish per person
  • Implement a daily commercial trip limit of 75 fish per operation
  • Prohibit the use of gill nets on the weekend in all joint fishing waters of the state, except Albemarle Sound

Joint fishing waters are the brackish upper creeks that are managed jointly by the Marine Fisheries Commission and the Wildlife Resources Commission. Maps showing boundary lines can be found on the Division of Marine Fisheries website at: http://ncfisheries.net/maps/coastal_inland/index.html

The prohibition of gill nets applies to both commercial and recreational nets, large mesh and small mesh nets, set and runaround nets.

The action eliminates a commercial weekend closure on possession of spotted seatrout outside of joint fishing waters. It also eliminates a recreational provision that no more than two of the fish may be greater than 24 inches.

The current 14-inch size limit remains in place.

The Division of Marine Fisheries plans to issue proclamations implementing the new regulations Thursday. They will be posted on the division website at: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamations

The commission also tentatively approved long-term management strategies for a draft Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan. These regulations will go into place in February 2014 unless additional data becomes available before then that indicates reductions are not necessary. State law requires the commission to end overfishing within two years of final adoption of a fishery management plan.

The long-term measures will:

  • Reduce the daily recreational bag limit to three fish per person.
  • Implement a Dec. 15 through Jan. 31 recreational closure.
  • Reduce the commercial trip limit to 25 fish.
  • Eliminate commercial closures.

The long-term measures are needed because the new short-term regulations represent a 40 percent reduction in spotted seatrout fishing mortality. According to a 2010 stock assessment, a 57.1 percent reduction in fishing mortality is needed to end overfishing of spotted seatrout within two years of final adoption of the plan.

The draft long-term management measures now go to the secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resource and the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations for review.

In other actions, the commission:

  • Postponed discussion on establishing a limited entry system for the commercial ocean striped bass fishery until its August meeting. The commission asked Louis Daniel, director of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, to pursue statutory changes to give the commission more flexibility in the state law that authorizes it to establish a limited entry system for fisheries subject to a federal fishery management plan that imposes quotas. The commission would like to change the current requirement that participation in a limited entry fishery be limited to those who landed a minimum number of pounds of fish in two of three license years.
     
  • Selected preferred management options for an amendment to the Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan. The plan now goes to the secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resource and the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations for review.
  • Approved taking a draft amendment to the Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan out for public comment.

nr-54-11
 

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • (252) 726-7021 or 1-800-682-2632

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