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Fisheries, Wildlife Approve 20 Coastal Recreational Fishing License Grants

MOREHEAD CITY – Revenues from the N.C. Coastal Recreational Fishing License will pay nearly $2 million in the coming year toward projects to help provide coastal fishing access and fisheries and habitat research.

The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission today announced the approval of 20 grants, totaling $2.43 million, for the 2013 cycle. The grants are funded from the N.C. Marine Resources Fund, which receives revenues from the sale of Coastal Recreational Fishing Licenses.

The grants are sorted into three focus areas. Grants that fall under the People Focus area include public education and public water access projects. Grants that fall under the Fish Focus area are fisheries research projects. Grants that fall under the Habitat Focus area include projects that enhance, protect or research fisheries habitat.

People Focus area has five grants totaling $1,210,333. They include:

· Wildlife Resources Commission’s Jacksonville Boating Access Area – $650,000
One-year grant that provides much needed boating and fishing access in Onslow County.

· N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Enhanced Artificial Reef Web Page – $120,000

Multi-year grant for a web-based and hand-held reef guide to provide coastal reef fishing guides for ocean, inshore and estuarine waters, including fishing access to oyster sanctuaries.

· N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Recreational Fishing Digest – $30,500

Multi-year grant for a publication to provide saltwater anglers with easy access to recreational size and creel limits.

· N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Angler’s Guide – $76,500

One year grant to publish a guide to provide educational opportunities regarding ethical angling and fisheries management to anglers.

· Town of Vandemere’s Waterfront Park Initiative – $333,333

Multi-year grant to purchase property to construct a boating access area

Fish Focus area has five grants totaling $479,825. They are:

· National Oceanic Atmospheric Association’s Beaufort Bridgenet Survey – $41,500

Multi-year grant to process a five-year backlog of unsorted samples and incorporate the resulting larval abundance data into the existing dataset, which would subsequently be made available for inclusion in stock assessments. Partnered with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.

· N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Mark Recapture Study of Cape Fear Striped Bass – $36,035

Multi-year grant to research the sustainability of the Cape Fear River striped bass population.

· N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Sources of Mortality and Movements of Weakfish Tagged in North Carolina – $116,646

Multi-year grant to gather data to provide increased understanding of factors affecting weakfish stocks.

· N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ N.C. Red Drum Cooperative Tagging Program – $12,000

Multi-year grant to continue red drum tagging for determining exploitation rates.

· N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Assessing Critical Habitat of Anadromous Fishes Using Telemetry Techniques – $273,644

Multi-year grant to identify critical spawning habitat, map migration routes and spawning grounds and potentially improve fishery-independent surveys for these species.

Habitat Focus area has 10 grants totaling $743,277. They are:

· University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Science, Investigating Salinity Fluxes on Natural and Restored Habitat Bottom – $111,988

Multi-year grant to study salinity regimes to inform managers on best locations for habitat enhancement projects including artificial fishing reefs and oyster sanctuary reefs.

· University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Science, FerryMon: N.C. Department of Transportation Based Automated Monitoring – $143,742

Multi-year grant to continue the long-term, continuous water quality monitoring in the Pamlico Sound.

· University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Science, Comparing the Use of Nominated Strategic Habitat Areas and Non-Strategic Habitat Areas Coastal Marsh Habitats – $97,368

Multi-year grant to examine fish use in western Pamlico Sound wetlands dominated by wind-driven tides and the link between fish productivity and habitat condition. It will verify the condition of some Strategic Habitat Areas in the region.

· University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Science, Incorporating Stakeholder Knowledge of the Status and Value of Coastal Habitats – $30,365

Multi-year grant to use a series of socioeconomic surveys of North Carolina residents to collect ecologically relevant data on the perceived health of and threats to coastal habitats and fisheries.

· University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Science, Trends in Fish Utilization of Low versus High Relief – $96,324

Multi-year grant to investigate fish utilization of artificial structures both near shore and offshore and evaluate the benefit of relief off the bottom of these structures.

· University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Science, “There’s Something Fishy about Salt Marsh, Oyster Reef, and Seagrass Habitat.” – $50,121

Multi-year grant to target habitat education strategies that are important to improve the public’s understanding of the fish habitat relationship and foster environmental stewardship.

· University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Science, Development of a Comprehensive Salinity Database – $72,415

Multi-year grant to develop a salinity database for North Carolina with sufficiently high spatial and temporal resolution to simultaneously examine salinity effects on critical fish habitat.

· N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Oyster Shell Recycling Program (Phase 2) – $32,000

One year grant to continue collection of discarded oyster shells and provide public awareness of the program while soliciting more partnerships.

· University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Science, Program’s Effects of Landscape Setting on the Function of Seagrass Meadows – $105,754

Multi-year grant to examine how differing habitat landscape settings and seasonal changes in submerged aquatic vegetation affects fish use, fish health due to diet and competition among species.

· N.C. Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program H-020 Promoting Responsible Boating Practice and Awareness of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation – $3,200

One year grant to develop and post boating signs at boat ramps throughout coastal North Carolina to educate and encourage responsible boating while protecting submerged aquatic vegetation in estuarine waters.

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