Releases – Winter 2013-2014
The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is accepting public comment until Jan. 18. on a draft supplement to the Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan.
The draft supplement provides the Marine Fisheries Commission with alternatives to implementing stricter commercial and recreational spotted seatrout fishing regulations set to begin in February. It was developed to address a commission vote in August to keep the current commercial and recreational size, bag and trip limits for spotted seatrout–action that requires a change in the fishery management plan.
Under the current fishery management plan, the existing regulations are14-inch minimum size limit, four-fish recreational bag limit, 75-fish commercial trip limit, and weekend commercial closure (except in Albemarle and Currituck sounds) . In February, the daily recreational bag limit will drop to three fish per person, with a Dec. 15-Jan. 31 recreational closure, and the commercial trip limit will reduce to 25 fish, with no commercial closures if the draft supplement is not adopted.
The draft supplement examines the reasons for not implementing the stricter management measures and provides the commission with the option of maintaining the existing regulations.
The draft supplement also provides the commission the option of implementing less stringent regulations that keep the 14-inch minimum size limit but increases the recreational bag limit to six-fish (with no more than two of the six fish greater than 24 inches). This option would eliminate the commercial trip limit but keeps the provision for no commercial possession or sale on weekends (except licensed finfish dealers).
Written comments should be sent to Chip Collier, 127 Cardinal Drive, Wilmington, NC 28405 or Chip.Collier@ncdenr.gov.
Draft Supplement A to the Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan can be found online at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/fmps-under-development.
For more information, contact Collier at (910) 796-7291 or Chip.Collier@ncdenr.gov.
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will open a new boating access area in Brunswick County in Shallotte on Nov. 22.
The Brick Landing Boating Access Area is located at 1921 Bricklanding Road SW in Shallotte, NC. The Wildlife Commission constructed two 15-foot wide boat ramps, a floating dock, and a paved parking lot with 23 boat trailer spaces and five single-vehicle spaces, of which two are handicapped accessible.
The boating access area provides access to the Intracoastal Waterway, including the Shallotte River and all of its tributaries. Anglers who launch their watercraft from the area can expect to find red drum, spotted sea trout, croaker, spot, and flounder.
The boat ramp’s location also gives anglers easy access to the Shallotte Inlet for nearshore and offshore fishing opportunities. Nearshore fish in that area usually consist of spanish mackerel, bluefish, and black drum. Offshore species in the area may include king mackerel, cobia, and dolphin.
Several artificial reefs located less than 10 miles offshore from Shallotte Inlet provide good fishing for several species of snapper and grouper.
“The Brick Landing Boating Access Area will provide boaters and anglers easy access to the ICW and to Shallotte Inlet,” said Mark Hamlett, design service section chief for the Commission. “It will be a great benefit to the public and should reduce some of the pressure placed on the heavily used Brunswick County access areas nearby.”
The Wildlife Commission partnered with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries on the new boating access area. The Commission purchased land for the site using motorboat registration receipts. Construction was funded primarily through Coastal Recreational Fishing License Grant funds.
“One of the focus areas for the Coastal Recreational Fishing License Grant is to help fund fishing access sites along the coast,” said Louis Daniel, director of the Division of Marine Fisheries. “We were glad to partner with the Wildlife Resources Commission on this worthy project.”
For more information on boating in North Carolina, including the locations of more than 200 free, publicly accessible boating access areas, visit the Commission’s online locater map. For more information on fishing in North Carolina, including where to fish, visit the fishing page on www.ncwildlife.org.
Action taken by the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission last week will bring regulatory changes in the American shad and black drum fisheries in 2014.
The commission voted to shorten the American shad season in the Albemarle Sound/Roanoke River system. The commission also voted to implement recreational and commercial size and possession limits for black drum.
Thresholds adopted last year in the N.C. American Shad Sustainable Fishery Plan have been met requiring commercial harvest reductions in the Albemarle Sound/Roanoke River system. The commission voted to address this requirement by shortening the commercial American shad season in the Albemarle Sound/Roanoke River system to March 18 through April 14. The commission also adopted a statement that if the thresholds continue to be met in 2014, it will consider instituting a moratorium on American shad in the Albemarle Sound/Roanoke River system.
There are no size and possession limits on black drum in North Carolina, but an Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Interstate Fishery Management Plan requires states to implement black drum possession limits and a minimum size limit of at least 12 inches by Jan. 1, 2014, and at least 14 inches by Jan. 1, 2016. The commission voted to implement the following regulations: (1) 14- to 25-inch total length slot size limit (but allow one fish longer than 25 inches total length to be kept); (2) 10-fish recreational bag limit; and (3) 500-pound commercial trip limit.
In other business, the commission:
(1) Approved a draft supplement to the Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan for a 60-day public comment period, from Nov. 18-Jan. 18. The draft supplement provides the commission with alternatives to stricter commercial and recreational spotted seatrout fishing regulations set to begin in February.
(2) Approved a draft amendment to the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan for public comment after adding a recommendation that expands on a Division of Marine Fisheries’ recommendation to convene a stakeholder group to initiate industry testing of different bycatch reduction devices (which are gear modifications meant to reduce unwanted finfish bycatch in shrimp trawls). The commission added a 40 percent reduction target for the study and stipulated if this target is not met, further restrictions will be placed on the shrimp trawl fishery.
(3) Initiated a focused amendment to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan to consider whether to continue a Dec. 1-31 closure in the large mesh gill net fishery, which was implemented to achieve needed harvest reductions in the southern flounder fishery. Through the amendment process, the Division of Marine Fisheries will determine if the necessary harvest reductions are now being met through temporary closures due to interactions with sea turtles, allowing the large mesh gill net fishery to open in December, when sea turtles are less abundant.
(4) Approved draft amendments to the bay scallop and river herring fishery management plans for public comment.
(5) Gave final approval to Amendment 2 to the Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan and Amendment 3 to the Oyster Fishery Management Plan and adopted rules to implement the amendments.
(6) Adopted a slate of other rules that include giving the division director proclamation authority to set size, recreational bag, commercial trip, gear, season and time restrictions on the taking of sheepshead if needed to maintain a sustainable harvest; and giving the division director proclamation authority to implement federal shellfish harvester and dealer requirements for the protection of public health.