Jim Kelley, Acting Director, Division of Marine Fisheries, hereby announces that effective at 12:01 A.M. Friday, March 25, 2016, the following provisions shall apply to the harvest of striped bass by COMMERCIAL FISHING OPERATIONS IN THE ALBEMARLE SOUND MANAGEMENT AREA:
I. AREA DESCRIPTION
Albemarle Sound Management Area as described in N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Rule 15A NCAC 03R .0201 (a).
II. SIZE AND HARVEST RESTRICTIONS
A. It is unlawful to take, possess, buy, sell or offer for sale striped bass less than 18 inches in total length.
B. It is unlawful for an individual or commercial fishing operation regardless of the number of persons or vessels involved, to possess, land, sell or offer for sale striped bass, unless taken in conjunction with other finfish species. Striped bass will be limited to 50% by weight, of the combined daily harvest, not to exceed 10 fish per day, per Standard Commercial Fishing License (SCFL) holder. The daily harvest limit of 10 striped bass shall not be exceeded, regardless of where taken from internal waters, unless the fish are taken in accordance with II. C. below.
C. It is unlawful for any operation consisting of more than one SCFL holder to be in possession of more than two daily harvest limits. A SCFL holder must accompany each single harvest limit until the time of sale to a dealer possessing a valid 2015/2016 STRIPED BASS DEALER PERMIT validated for the Albemarle Sound Management Area.
D. The SCFL holders must accompany and transport each single harvest limit and the other finfish species together until the striped bass are sold to a dealer possessing a valid 2015/2016 STRIPED BASS DEALER PERMIT validated for the Albemarle Sound Management Area.
III. LANDING RESTRICTIONS
A. Striped bass taken from areas opened by this proclamation may be sold only to and purchased by a dealer possessing a current STRIPED BASS DEALER PERMIT validated for the Albemarle Sound Management Area.
B. It is unlawful to purchase more than the daily harvest limit of striped bass as specified in II. B.
C. It is unlawful to sell, offer for sale or purchase striped bass taken by hook-and-line.
IV. SEASON CLOSURE
The striped bass season for commercial fishing operations in the Albemarle Sound Management Area will close by proclamation when the harvest allocation is reached or at 8:00 P.M. on Saturday, April 30, 2016. Dealers will have until two weeks after the closing of the season to sell, offer for sale, transport, or have in possession unfrozen striped bass taken in this fishery.
V. GENERAL INFORMATION
A. This proclamation is issued under the authority of N.C.G.S. 113-170.4; 113-170.5; 113-182; 113-221.1; 143B-289.52; and the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Rules 15A NCAC 03H .0103, 03M .0202, and 03O .0500 et seq.
B. It is unlawful to violate the provisions of any proclamation issued by the Fisheries Director under his delegated authority per N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Rule 15A NCAC 03H .0103.
C. In accordance with N.C. General Statute 113-221.1(c) All persons who may be affected by proclamations issued by the Fisheries Director are under a duty to keep themselves informed of current proclamations.
D. It is unlawful for a dealer to possess, buy, sell or offer for sale striped bass taken from the Albemarle Sound Management Area without holding a valid STRIPED BASS DEALER PERMIT validated for the Albemarle Sound Management Area from the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries. Dealers must abide by all conditions which appear on the permit as well as the general provisions which appear in N.C. Marine Fisheries Rule 15A NCAC 3O .0500 et seq.
E. Striped bass lawfully sold to a permitted dealer may be resold to a non-permitted wholesale or retail market provided the initial permitted dealer records their dealer identification number on each bill of lading or receipts involved in the shipment of striped bass. Any individual or corporation who holds a current finfish dealer license must obtain a STRIPED BASS DEALER PERMIT validated for the Albemarle Sound Management Area in order to sell any striped bass personally harvested.
F. The intent of this proclamation is to manage the commercial harvest of striped bass in the Albemarle Sound Management Area within the 137,500 pound annual harvest quota established by the November 2014 Revision to Amendment 1 of the North Carolina Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan.
G. Holders of Recreational Commercial Gear Licenses or hook-and-line fishermen must follow the size, creel, and season limits of the recreational fishery for striped bass.
H. All striped bass taken during the season closures and all undersize striped bass shall be immediately returned to the water where taken, regardless of the condition of the fish.
I. In accordance with N.C. Marine Fisheries Rule 15A NCAC 03M .0201, it is unlawful for a dealer to possess, buy, sell, or offer for sale striped bass taken from the Albemarle Sound Management Area without having a N. C. Division of Marine Fisheries issued Albemarle Sound Management Area striped bass tag affixed through the mouth and gill cover. In case of striped bass imported from other states, a similar tag that is issued for striped bass in the state of origin must be affixed.
J. Dealer businesses located in Hyde, Dare, Tyrrell, Washington, Bertie, Chowan, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden, Currituck and other northern counties may obtain tags by contacting the Manteo Marine Patrol Office at 800-405-7774 or 252-473-5734. Allow 48 hours for delivery.
K. For gill net requirements in the Albemarle Sound Management Area, see the most recent M-type proclamations specific to the area.
L. Contact the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, NC 28557 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632 for more information or visit the division website at http://ncmarinefisheries.net
M. This proclamation supersedes FF-13-2016, dated March 1, 2016. It decreases the daily harvest limit from 15 to 10 fish for striped bass from commercial fishing operations in the Albemarle Sound Management Area. The harvest season will close by proclamation when the harvest allocation is reached or at 8:00 P.M. on April 30, 2016.