Some waters to reopen to flounder gill nets
MOREHEAD CITY – North Carolina will allow commercial fishermen to use gill nets to harvest flounder and other fish in some coastal waters this summer, but they will have to throw back any red drum they catch.
The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission voted last week to reopen some coastal waters to large-mesh gill nets June 1, but prohibited the harvest of red drum from these nets.
Anchored large-mesh gill nets will be allowed in areas of western Albemarle Sound, Currituck Sound, and the Pamlico, Pungo, and Neuse rivers that are exempt from regulations under the sea turtle incidental take permit. The New River will reopen to anchored large-mesh gill nets above the closed shrimp trawl line.
Large-mesh run-around gill nets and strike nets will be allowed statewide in coastal waters where they were allowed prior to the May 5 large-mesh gill net closure.
The waters will still be subject to gill net closures due to interactions with sea turtles.
The state closed internal coastal waters to large-mesh gill nets to avoid incidental catches of red drum after the red drum commercial harvest limit was exceeded in the fall. The commercial red drum season will not reopen until Sept. 1.
Recreational red drum season is still open.
In other business, the commission voted to:
Ask the division director to implement a new federal regulation in state waters that prohibits the sale of king mackerel without a federal commercial king mackerel permit. In North Carolina, the regulation will apply only to king mackerel harvested by hook-and-line gear or by a for-hire vessel fishing under a recreational charter. The new federal regulation also includes an exemption for state-permitted fishing tournaments that sell fish for charitable causes. The new regulations will not be effective until late summer;
Accept the petitioner’s request to withdraw a petition for rulemaking, approved by the commission in August, which sought to prohibit the use of commercial fishing gear and certain types of recreational fishing gear on and around the Oriental Artificial Reef in the Neuse River;
Agree that the issue of allowing commercial fishermen to retain two harvest limits of spotted seatrout, when two or more license holders are on board a vessel together, should be considered as part of the Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan review next year;
Move forward with rulemaking for management measures in draft amendments to the Bay Scallop, River Herring and Shrimp fishery management plans. Proposed text and fiscal analyses for the rules will come before the commission in August.
Ask the division’s staff to prepare information on adopting a general fisheries rule that allows the director to establish limited entry for different fisheries through proclamation, so that regulations can easily change, if needed.
Send a letter to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission asking it to apply all resources towards completing a red drum stock assessment to be used in review of the N.C. Red Drum Fishery Management Plan in 2015.
Send a letter to the director of the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding East Coast bluefin tuna allocations;
Send a letter to the governor, speaker of the House and Senate president pro-tem in support of allowing the N.C. Marine Patrol to enter into a joint law enforcement agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service.
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