RE: BLACK SEA BASS — COMMERCIAL FISHING OPERATIONS – ATLANTIC OCEAN – NORTH OF CAPE HATTERAS
Dr. Louis B. Daniel III, Director, Division of Marine Fisheries, hereby announces that effective at 12:01 A.M., Tuesday, December 1, 2015, the following restrictions will apply to the commercial black sea bass fishery north of Cape Hatteras (35° 15.3’N. Latitude):
I. SIZE LIMIT
It is unlawful to possess black sea bass less than 11 inches total length north of Cape Hatteras. Total length shall be measured along the lateral midline from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail, excluding the caudal fin filament.
II. HARVEST PERIOD AND LIMITS
From the Atlantic Ocean north of Cape Hatteras during the harvest period beginning at 12:01 A.M., Tuesday, December 1, 2015 and ending at 6:00 P.M., Thursday, December 31, 2015:
A. It is unlawful for a commercial fishing operation employing fish pots and traps and hook and line, regardless of the number of people involved, to possess or land more than 50 pounds of black sea bass per trip taken from the Atlantic Ocean north of Cape Hatteras during the harvest period.
B. It is unlawful for all other commercial fishing operations (those employing gear other than fish pots and traps and hook and line) to possess or land more than 50 pounds of black sea bass during the harvest period.
C. The black sea bass fishery will close by proclamation once the quota has been reached or at 6:00 P.M., December 31, 2015, whichever occurs first.
III. GEAR RESTRICTIONS
Black sea bass traps or pots must conform with the Federal rule requirements for escape vents specified in 50 CFR 648.144(b)(2) and for degradable fasteners specified in 50 CFR 648.144(b)(3)(i), (ii) and (iii).
IV. GENERAL INFORMATION
A. This proclamation is issued under the authority of N.C.G.S. 113- 170.4; 113-170.5; 113-182; 113-221.1; 143B-289.52 and N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Rule 15A NCAC 03M.0512.
B. It is unlawful to violate the provisions of any proclamation issued by the Fisheries Director under his delegated authority pursuant to N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Rule 15A NCAC 03H .0103.
C. In accordance with N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Rule 15A NCAC 03I .0101 (5)(e) fish shall be considered landed when the fish reach the shore or structure connected to the shore.
D. In accordance with N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Rule 15A NCAC 03O .0503(b)(5), it is unlawful for a fish dealer to purchase or possess more than 100 pounds of black sea bass taken from the Atlantic Ocean north of Cape Hatteras per day per commercial fishing operation during the open season unless the dealer has a valid Black Sea Bass North of Cape Hatteras Dealer Permit.
E. Permits will be issued only to those licensed fish dealers holding a valid license as authorized in G.S. 113-169.3. Dealers must abide by all conditions of the Black Sea Bass - North of Cape Hatteras Dealer Permit as set out in N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Rule 15A NCAC 03O .0503. Black Sea Bass Dealer Permits are available at no cost from all Division of Marine Fisheries License Offices.
F. In accordance with N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Rule 15A NCAC 03I .0113 it is unlawful for any licensee under Chapter 113, Subchapter IV of the N.C. General Statutes to refuse to allow the Fisheries Director or his agents to obtain biological data, harvest information, or other statistical data necessary or useful to the conservation and management of marine and estuarine resources from fish in the licensee’s possession.
G. In accordance with N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Rule 15A NCAC 03O .0503(b)(1)(A) it is unlawful for dealers to fail to fax or send via electronic mail by noon daily, on forms provided by the Division, the previous day’s landings for the permitted fishery to the dealer contact designated on the permit. Landings for Fridays or Saturdays shall be submitted on the following Monday. If the dealer is unable to fax or electronic mail the required information, the permittee shall call in the previous day’s landings to the dealer contact designated on the permit but shall maintain a log furnished by the Division.
H. Federal regulations for Fisheries of the Northeastern United States specify in 50 CFR Part 648.4(a)(7) that “any vessel of the United States that fishes for or retains black sea bass in or from the EEZ north of 35°15.3’ N. lat., the latitude of Cape Hatteras Light, NC, must have been issued and carry on board a valid National Marine Fisheries Service Black Sea Bass Moratorium Permit, except for vessels other than party or charter vessels that observe the 100 pound possession limit established pursuant to §648.145.”
I. The intent of this proclamation is to allow North Carolina to comply with the requirements of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and to manage the commercial black sea bass fishery under the state quota system established by the FMP. North Carolina is operating under a state quota and these trip limits and harvest periods are intended to constrain the harvest to the quota.
J. Copies of escape vent specifications for black sea bass pots north of Cape Hatteras are available via the Code of Federal Regulations posted on the Internet at: http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=&SID=9f5bb83d0dd1bf6af01d7baf383b29c0&r=SUBPART&n=50y18.104.22.168.5.9
and from the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, NC 28557.
K. In accordance with N.C. General Statute 113-221.1(c) All persons who may be affected by proclamations issued by the Fisheries Director are under a duty to keep themselves informed of current proclamations.
L. Contact N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, NC 28557 252-726-7021or 800-682-2632 for more information or visit the division website at www.ncmarinefisheries.net.
M. This proclamation opens the Atlantic Ocean commercial black sea bass season north of Cape Hatteras, sets the harvest window and establishes a 50 pound harvest limit per trip for fish pots, traps and hook and line and a 50 pound harvest limit for the harvest period for all other gears. The fishery will close by proclamation once the annual North Carolina quota is reached or December 31, 2015, whichever occurs first.
November 17, 2015