RE: 2015- 2016 OYSTER RESTRICTIONS-OYSTER DREDGING CLOSURE
Dr. Louis B. Daniel III, Director, Division of Marine Fisheries, hereby announces that effective at sunset, Friday, December 18, 2015, the following changes in restrictions will apply to the area open to the mechanical harvest of oysters:
I. MEANS AND METHODS
MECHANICAL HARVEST RESTRICTIONS:
A. Oysters may be taken by mechanical methods (See General Information Section VII. E., G. and I. for other gear restrictions).
B. It is unlawful to transfer oysters from the catching vessel to any other vessel during oyster harvesting operations or to transport oysters by any vessel other than the vessel in which they are harvested.
C. It is unlawful to possess more than five bushels of unculled catch onboard a vessel. Only material on the culling tray is exempt from culling restrictions.
D. It is unlawful to possess unculled catch or culled catch material while underway and not engaged in mechanical harvesting.
E. It is unlawful for the catch container (bag, cage) attached to a dredge to extend more than two feet in any direction from the tooth bar.
F. It is unlawful to tow a dredge unless the point where the tow line or cable exits the vessel and goes directly into the water is on the port or starboard side of the vessel forward of the transom.
G. It is unlawful to possess a dredge while engaged in oyster harvesting activities in an area closed to the use of mechanical methods for oyster harvest.
II. HARVEST DAYS AND TIME PERIOD
Mechanical oyster harvest will be allowed Monday through Friday from sunrise until 2:00 P.M. each day. It is unlawful to fail to have oyster dredges out of the water and stowed on deck after 2:00 P.M. each weekday (See General Information Section VII. C. and F.).
It is unlawful for persons holding a Standard Commercial Fishing License with a shellfish endorsement to take or possess more than fifteen (15) bushels of oysters per fishing operation per day, regardless of the number of persons, license holders, harvest methods or vessels involved (See General Information Section VII. I.) The harvest vessel is a part of the fishing operation.
IV. MINIMUM SIZE LIMIT
It is unlawful to possess oysters less than three (3) inches shell length for oysters taken on public or private grounds. (See General Information Section VII. I.)
V. MECHANICAL HARVEST SEASON
The season for harvesting oysters by mechanical methods shall be monitored and changes in harvest areas may be implemented by proclamation at a later date.