Fish Post

Releases – March 23, 2017

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The recreational flounder bag limit will decrease from six fish to four fish per person, per day in North Carolina waters beginning March 1.

The recreational size limit will remain at 15 inches.

The bag limit reduction is necessary to comply with requirements of Addendum XXVIII to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan.

The board, in August 2016, approved an approximate 30 percent reduction in catch limits for both the commercial and recreational summer flounder fisheries in response to a 2016 stock assessment update, which indicated the resource is experiencing overfishing but is not overfished.

Failure to implement the reduced bag limit would result in default management measures of a 20-inch size limit, a two-fish bag limit, and a fishing season from July 1 through August 31.

Because North Carolina manages its recreational fishery for all species of flounder with the same size and bag limits, the changes will apply to all recreational flounder fishing in all estuarine and ocean waters.

For specific recreational flounder regulations see Proclamation FF-4-2017.

The overall commercial summer flounder quota has already been reduced by 30 percent, establishing the 2017 North Carolina commercial summer flounder quota to 1.6 million pounds.

For more information, contact Chris Batsavage at (252) 808-8009 or

Cape Fear Community College’s Marine Technology department will hold its 17th annual Boat Show on April 2 from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on the Wilmington riverfront (Water Street between the Hilton Riverside Hotel and the Coastline Convention Center). The event showcases the art of boat building, featuring the work of CFCC boat building students and local craftsman. A variety of wooden and fiberglass boats will be displayed along the riverfront, as well as in the water. All proceeds from the boat show support scholarships for CFCC’s boat building students.

The show will include a live boat building demonstration by Atlantic Veneer, ten judging categories plus special Simmons Sea Skiff awards, and a knot-tying challenge. CFCC’s 135 foot research vessel, the Cape Hatteras, will be open for tours.

For more information about the CFCC Riverfront Boat Show, visit

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has opened the entire Roanoke River Management Area to striped bass harvest from March 1 through April 30, unless closed or extended through proclamation. The Roanoke River Management Area includes the Roanoke River and tributaries from Roanoke Rapids Lake Dam downstream to Albemarle Sound, including the Cashie, Middle, and Eastmost rivers.

The daily creel limit within the Roanoke River Management Area is two striped bass per angler. The minimum length limit is 18 inches, and no striped bass between 22 and 27 inches can be possessed at any time. Only one striped bass larger than 27 inches can be included in the daily creel limit.

Anglers are required to use a single barbless hook or a lure with a single barbless hook when fishing in the upper Roanoke River from April 1 through June 30. The upper Roanoke River is defined as the main river channel and all tributaries, upstream from the U.S. Highway 258 Bridge near Scotland Neck to Roanoke Rapids Lake Dam.

Additionally, anglers cannot possess river herring (blueback herring and alewife) greater than six inches, regardless of origin, while fishing in or boating on the Roanoke River downstream of Roanoke Rapids Dam, its tributaries, and the Albemarle Sound.

From early March until the end of May, the Commission will post online weekly fisheries reports from the Roanoke River and also the Tar, Neuse, and Cape Fear rivers. These sampling updates will be supplemented with information on striped bass fishing and boating access areas on the Commission’s fishing page at

For more information on fishing in public, inland waters, visit, or call the agency’s Division of Inland Fisheries at (919) 707-0220.

The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission in mid-February voted to grant a petition for rulemaking and begin drafting rules to implement it. If adopted, the rules will limit shrimp trawling in most North Carolina waters.

The rulemaking process is a lengthy one.

The North Carolina Administrative Procedure Act requires the development of a fiscal note before a notice of text for the proposed rules can be published in the North Carolina Register. For proposed rules that have an economic impact in excess of $1 million, a regulatory impact analysis must be prepared.

The development of a regulatory impact analysis could take more than a year and must be approved by the Office of State Budget and Management and the commission before the notice of text can be published.

Once the notice of text is published, the commission must hold a comment period, and likely a public hearing, before the commission can consider final adoption of the rules. Some of the proposed rules might require the modification of existing fishery management plans before they can be adopted.

If the commission adopts the rules, they then go before the state Rules Review Commission for approval before becoming effective. However, if the state receives 10 letters of objection, the issue will automatically move to the legislature.

The petition, which was submitted Nov. 2 and modified Jan. 12 by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, asked the commission to designate all coastal fishing waters not otherwise designated as nursery areas (including the Atlantic Ocean out to three miles from shore) as special secondary nursery areas; establish clear criteria for the opening of shrimp season; and define the type of gear and how and when gear may be used in special secondary nursery areas during shrimp season.

Specific requests of the petition include: (1) limiting shrimp trawling to three days a week in the estuaries and four days a week in the ocean; (2) limiting trawling to the daytime only; (3) reducing the maximum trawl head rope length to 90 feet in estuarine waters and 110 feet in ocean; (4) limiting tow times to 45 minutes; (5) opening shrimp season once the shrimp count in Pamlico Sound reaches 60 shrimp per pound, heads on; (6) implementing an 8-inch size limit for spot and a 10-inch size limit for Atlantic croaker; and (7) requiring all fishermen to use two N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries-certified bycatch reduction devices when trawling in state waters.

In other business, the commission voted to:

(1) Set the 2017 North Carolina recreational cobia season from May 1 to Aug. 31 with a one-fish-per-person-per-day possession limit, and a four-fish-per-vessel-per-day maximum possession limit seven days a week. The size limit will increase to 36-inches fork length. The maximum charter boat limit will include the captain and mate, as well as customers. Additionally, the commission requested that all cobia harvested be recorded and tagged at a current or future N.C. Citation Station and that the length and weight of the fish be recorded to provide a more accurate harvest estimate for future use in determining needed regulations. The division is evaluating ways to accommodate this request.

(2) Give final approval of Amendment 2 to the Hard Clam Fishery Management Plan and Amendment 4 to the Oyster Fishery Management and implementing rules.

(3) Approve rules to establish a Permit for Weekend Trawling for Live Shrimp; relocate a 2003 requirement for a permit for dealers transacting in spiny dogfish from proclamation into rule; increase penalties for gear larceny; correct a primary nursery area boundary coordinate for Wade Creek in Carteret County; clarify license requirements for leaseholder designees; re-establish a rule delegating proclamation authority to the fisheries director to specify time, area, means and methods, season, size, and quantity of spotted seatrout harvested, due to an Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission plan to remove spotted seatrout from its managed species; and modify the fisheries director’s proclamation authority for the protection of public health;

(4) Write a letter to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s secretary asking him to consider removing stocked fish from the N.C. Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan.