Marine Fisheries Commission to Meet in Pine Knoll Shores
MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will meet Feb. 27-March 1 at the Clam Digger Inn, 511 Salter Path Road, Pine Knoll Shores. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. Feb. 27, 9 a.m. Feb. 28 and 8:30 a.m. March 1.
The meeting is open to the public.
Agenda items include final adoption of amendments to the Southern Flounder and Estuarine Striped Bass fishery management plans and adoption of rule changes to implement the Estuarine Striped Bass plan.
The draft amendment to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan sets minimum regulations for the commercial flounder fishery that will remain in place even if restrictions to protect sea turtles are relaxed. The amendments limit large mesh gill net sets to:
Four nights per week (Monday – Thursday) north of Beaufort Inlet, excluding Albemarle, Croatan and Roanoke sounds and Pamlico, Pungo, Neuse and Bay rivers;
Five nights per week (Sunday – Thursday) south of Beaufort Inlet;
A maximum of 2,000 yards per fishing operation from Croatan and Roanoke sounds to Beaufort Inlet;
A maximum of 1,000 yards per fishing operation from Beaufort Inlet to the South Carolina line;
A maximum of 3,000 yards per fishing operation in the Albemarle, Croatan and Roanoke sounds and Pamlico, Pungo, Neuse and Bay rivers.
The regulations represent the least restrictive management measures that could be in place to end overfishing and rebuild southern flounder stocks. However, more restrictive measures may be put in place to reduce interactions with protected species.
The draft amendment also includes previously approved recreational measures that went into effect by proclamation in February 2011. Those management measures increased the recreational minimum size limit to 15 inches and decreased the daily creel limit to six fish per person.
Adoption of the draft amendment to the Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan and accompanying rules will:
· Shift the existing joint/coastal boundary line between the Albemarle Sound Management Area and the Roanoke River Management Area for easier public identification and adherence to striped bass regulations.
· Re-establish a coordinate point on land for Roanoke Marshes Point, which is the western point of the southern boundary for the Albemarle Sound Management Area. The point is used to mark the boundaries for the Albemarle Sound/Chowan River Herring Management Areas, Attended Gill Net Areas and Striped Bass Management Areas.
· Remove the prohibition on the sale and purchase of striped bass taken by hook-and-line gear. This will not automatically authorize the use of hook-and-line gear in the commercial striped bass fishery, but it will permit issuance of a proclamation to allow the use of this gear at some future date. It is the intent that such a proclamation would follow discussions by the Marine Fisheries Commission and its advisory committees in association with review of fishery management plans.
· Clarify that it will remain unlawful for a commercial fishing operation to possess striped bass taken from waters of the Roanoke River Management Area, which are under the jurisdiction of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
The commission is also scheduled to:
· Approve for rulemaking a draft amendment to the Oyster Fishery Management Plan that will create seed oyster management areas at Possum Bay and Swan Point in the mouth of the New River;
· Approve the goals and objectives for the Division of Marine Fisheries to development amendments to the Bay Scallop and River Herring fishery management plans; and
· Review the timeline and goal and objectives for development of an amendment to the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan.
The commission will take public comment on any fisheries issue at 6 p.m. Feb. 27 and 9 a.m. Feb. 28. The chairman will allow each speaker to comment for five minutes during the Feb. 27 session and three minutes during the Feb. 28 session. Due to time constraints, those making comments will be asked to speak only once, either at the Feb. 27 or Feb. 28 sessions. Individuals will not be allowed to speak during both public comment periods.
A meeting agenda is attached. A full briefing book can be found on the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries website at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/mfc-agendas-briefingbooks-presentations
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