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July 23, 2017 1:20 am EST
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Fisheries Commission Extends Flounder Gill Net Closure; Decreases Yardage Limit in Carteret County Waters

 

MOREHEAD CITY – New restrictions on large mesh gill nets will go into effect Sunday in Carteret County waters to further protect threatened and endangered sea turtles and prevent overfishing of Bogue Sound.

 

The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission voted last week to continue a closure in the southern part of Core Sound, Back Sound, The Straits and North River to the use of set large mesh gill nets during the summer and fall. These waters closed May 13 to set nets with 4- to 6 ½-inch stretched mesh, but had originally been slated to reopen June 4.

 

The commission also voted to reduce the yardage limit on large mesh gill nets set from 2,000 yards to 1,000 yards in waters between North River and the N.C. 58 bridge to Emerald Isle.

 

The commission took this action to reduce interactions with sea turtles as the state continues to pursue a statewide Incidental Take Permit for large mesh gill nets under Section 10 of the federal Endangered Species Act. These permits allow for takes of endangered species that occur incidentally to an otherwise lawful activity under limitations specified in each permit. The commission and the division hope that active management of this identified hotspot for interactions will be viewed favorably by NMFS.

 

The southern part of Core Sound, Back Sound, the Straits and North River account for 53 percent of the sea turtle interactions the state had documented since implementing a large mesh gill net observer program in 2010.

 

The observer program was instituted as part of an agreement to settle a lawsuit filed against the state by the Karen Beasley

Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.

 

Daniel issued a proclamation today to implement the new management measures. For specific information on the closure lines and the gill net yardage restrictions, see Proclamation M-23-12 on the division’s website at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamations.

 

The commission agreed by consensus to write a letter to the NMFS, copying the N.C. Congressional delegation, expressing frustration with the ITP process, the lack of a stock assessment for sea turtles; and problems with nesting data used to determine sea turtle population status.

 

For more information, contact Protected Resources Section Chief Chris Batsavage at 252-808-8009 or Chris.Batsavage@ncdenr.gov.

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