Fish Post

Releases – October 12, 2017

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Anglers who fish in Brunswick County waters will find improvements at one of the offshore fishing sites this fall.

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Artificial Reef Program, in partnership with the Long Bay Artificial Reef Association, recently sank a barge and more than 1,600 tons of concrete pipe on Artificial Reef-430.

The new material will enhance fishing opportunities for anglers from Oak Island, Southport, and Ocean Isle who target nearshore species such as flounder, spanish mackerel, and king mackerel.

The reef is about 2.6 nautical miles offshore of Oak Island in about 35 feet of water.

Contractors sank the 75-foot barge on July 19. In August, 1,606 tons of concrete pipe was deployed at several locations on the reef site.

The division plans to sink up to another 2,500 tons of concrete materials on the site this fall, more than doubling the amount of material on the reef. The division initially deployed 2,000 tons of concrete pipe on the site in 2013.

Approximate coordinates for the new materials are listed below and will be available on the division’s Interactive Reef Guide upon completion of the project.

Barge: 33° 52.326’ N (latitude), 78° 09.985’ W (longitude)

Concrete Pipe: 33° 52.339’ N, 78° 10.119’ W

Concrete Pipe: 33° 52.363’ N, 78° 10.000’ W

Concrete Pipe: 33° 52.314’ N, 78° 09.852’ W

Concrete Pipe: 33° 52.190’ N, 78° 09.792’ W

Visit http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/artificial-reefs-program to go to the Interactive Reef Guide.

Additionally, hard copies of the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Artificial Reef Guide are available at division offices in Morehead City, Wilmington, Washington, Manteo, and Elizabeth City.

The division maintains 43 ocean artificial reefs and 25 estuarine reefs, 15 of which serve as oyster sanctuaries. Ocean reefs are located from one-half mile to 38 miles from shore and are situated so that they can be reached from every maintained inlet in the state. The reefs serve as crucial spawning and foraging habitat for many commercially and recreationally important fish species in North Carolina.

For more information, contact Jason Peters, artificial reef coordinator, at (252) 808-8063 or Jason.Peters@ncdenr.gov.

 

Three advisory committees to the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will meet on separate dates in October to discuss issues related to the cobia fishery.

The meetings will be held as follows:

Oct. 24 at 6:00 p.m.—Northern Advisory Committee, Dare County Center Commissioner’s Meeting Room, 950 Marshall C. Collins Drive, Manteo

Contact: Katy West, (252) 948-3884, Katy.West@ncdenr.gov

Oct. 26 at 6:00 p.m.—Finfish Advisory Committee, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Central District Office, 5285 U.S. Hwy. 70 West, Morehead City

Contact: Lee Paramore, (252) 473-5734, Lee.Paramore@ncdenr.gov

Oct. 25 at 6:00 p.m.—Southern Advisory Committee, N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Wilmington Regional Office, 127 Cardinal Drive Extension, Wilmington

Contact: Chris Stewart, (910) 796-7370, Chris.Stewart@ncdenr.gov

The advisory committees will be asked to provide input to the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission on management measures contained in the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Draft Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Migratory Group Cobia (Georgia to New York). The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s South Atlantic State/Federal Fisheries Management Board will meet Oct. 19 to vote on this plan.

The draft plan includes size, bag, and vessel limits to complement federal measures. Most notably, the draft plan includes several proposed options for state‐specific recreational harvest targets that will give individual states more flexibility in developing management measures to best suit their needs.

Currently, the recreational annual catch limit for Georgia to New York is managed on a coastwide basis. This has resulted in federal closures and significant overages, disrupting fishing opportunities and jeopardizing the health of the stock.

The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will discuss North Carolina’s recreational cobia management measures at its Nov. 15-16 meeting at the Doubletree by Hilton Garden Inn Outer Banks in Kitty Hawk.

For more information, contact Steve Poland, cobia staff lead with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, at (252) 808-8159 or Steve.Poland@ncdenr.gov.

 

On Monday, Oct. 2, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission closed the Shell Rock Landing boating access area to renovate the parking area to increase available on-site parking.

The Onslow County boating access area, located on Shell Rock Landing Road in Hubert, will be closed for approximately three months. After the renovations are complete, the site will have 52 parking spaces for vehicles with trailers and 10 vehicle-only spaces, including three ADA-compliant spaces. The Commission plans to reopen the access area in January.

The nearest alternative boating access areas are Cedar Point and Emerald Isle. To locate other boat ramps in the area or for more information on boating in North Carolina, visit the Commission’s online locater map. For more information on fishing in North Carolina, including where to fish, visit the fishing page at www.ncwildlife.org.

 

The Standard Commercial Fishing License Eligibility Board to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will meet at 10:30 a.m., Nov. 1 at the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Wilmington Regional Office, 127 N. Cardinal Drive Extension, Wilmington.

The board will consider applications deemed complete and submitted by Oct. 18.

The board meets two to three times a year to consider license applications. For directions on applying for a commercial fishing license, go to http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/commercial-fishing-license-information and click on the Eligibility Pool Application link.

For more information, contact division License Eligibility Clerk Ann Bordeaux-Nixon at 910-796-7261 or Ann.Bordeaux-Nixon @ncdenr.gov.

 

A cooperative effort among the recreational fishing industry, anglers, and state and federal agencies has resulted in reduced mortality for thousands of red snapper and other reef fish in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic.

Throughout 2015-2017, the FishSmart Best Practices and Descender Education project, coordinated through the FishAmerica Foundation, engaged more than 1,100 anglers in the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic regions to improve the survival of angler caught-and-released fish. Participants in the project were provided with: information on best practices for handling and releasing fish; and with SeaQualizer descending devices. They were then asked to evaluate their experience.

“Through the FishSmart project, the recreational fishing industry is leading the way to improve the survival of caught-and-released fish and help ensure the future of our sport” said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA). “The FishSmart Best Practices and Descender Education project represents the continued growth and evolution of this program, which reflects anglers’ and the industry’s longstanding and continued commitment to fisheries conservation.”

One of the key findings of the four regional workshops was that returning saltwater fish caught in deep water to the depth at which they were caught–or as close as possible–can significantly improve their chances of survival. In the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic, many reef fish such as red snapper are being released due to increasingly shorter seasons and higher rates of encounter. Without proper handling techniques, such as use of descending devices, a significant percentage of released fish die, to the detriment of fisheries conservation and future fishing opportunities.

However, since release mortality in recreational fisheries is the culmination of millions of individual encounters between anglers and fish, true conservation benefits will be achieved by empowering individual anglers with information, training, and tools to improve the survival of each individual fish that they return to the water.

Through the FishSmart Best Practices and Descender Education project, anglers collectively reported releasing 16,000-28,000 red snapper and 13,000-22,000 other fish by applying best practices techniques and using the SeaQualizer when needed. Based on the most recent research on the benefits of descending fish under conditions typically encountered in the Gulf of Mexico, an estimated 3,000-9,000 red snapper survived during this project period through the use of the SeaQualizer alone, plus an unknown number of fish that survived as a result of improved handling techniques.

“Some of the key findings of the project involved the changes that anglers voluntarily made in the way that they released fish,” remarked Mike Leonard, ASA’s Conservation director. “The vast majority of project participants found that information provided on how to properly handle fish improved the way that they release fish.”

Leonard further said, “Nearly 75 percent had little or no knowledge of descender devices prior to participating in this project and indicated that are now likely to use a descender device to release most or all fish when needed. This reinforces the well-known fact that anglers are true conservationists at heart: provide them with the tools and techniques to do the right thing and they readily embrace it.”

This FishSmart Best Practices and Descender Education project was the result of numerous partnerships. Major funding support was provided through the American Sportfishing Association, the Brunswick Foundation, Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, NOAA Fisheries, SeaQualizer, LLC, and Grizzly Smokeless Tobacco.  Educational materials and descending devices were distributed through the assistance of partners including Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, Coastal Conservation Association, International Game Fish Association, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Georgia Coastal Resources Division, Florida Sea Grant, South Carolina DNR, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Alabama Department of Conservation, and Texas A&M/Harte Research Institute.