Fish Post

Releases – October 26, 2017

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The 39th annual U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament was held October 5-7 at the Southport Marina. It attracted 471 boats with over 1,400 anglers competing for more than $272,000 in cash and prizes.

Top honors for their 49.75 lb. king mackerel went to Capt. March Treurniet and Nick Evans, from Southport, NC, aboard “Keep It Reel.” For their efforts they received $25,000. Second place and $59,789 went to Capt. Casey Forest, from Mooresville, NC, on the “Nautley Crew” for their 43.85 lb. king, and third place honors and $9,271 went to Capt. Tony Morgan aboard “Salt Therapy” from Oak Island, NC, for their 41.85 lb. king. The largest check of the night was $71,495 and went to 4th place Capt. Bonner D. Herring on “Capt Boo Too” from Southport, NC, for their 41.70 lb. king. Anglers could add to their winnings by entering additional prize categories, hence the difference in the leaderboard rankings and the actual checks.

“It was another highly successful year for the US Open King Mackerel Tournament and the Southport-Oak Island community. The U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament has a $2 million-dollar economic impact, but that impact pales in the amount of appreciation we have for our host Southport Marina, the participants, sponsors, SKA, and the hundreds of volunteers,” said Karen Sphar, Executive Vice President of the Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce.

The tournament, an event of the Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce, is held annually the first week in October at the Southport Marina.

Tournament results are available on the website, video of the weigh-ins can be found at, and photos from the weekend are available at the U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament Facebook page.


When you think of marine debris, you likely think of items carelessly discarded and winding up in our waters. Although that is definitely one source, sometimes debris is created by events outside of our control. Severe storms and weather events often result in a large amount of marine debris. Although there are steps we can take to reduce the amount of storm debris, such as securing our belongings before the storm hits, debris is often an unfortunate and unavoidable side effect of severe weather.

The past couple months have been particularly tough for the Gulf of Mexico, Southeast, and Caribbean regions that have been battered by hurricanes. These storms have resulted in an immense amount of damage and loss, with the long road to recovery just beginning for many areas. Marine debris is just one of many concerns following these storms.

So how do we address hurricane debris?

Though tropical storms and hurricanes cause significant quantities of marine debris and affect sea-side populations as well as coastal habitats, there are many priority efforts that occur right after a hurricane passes, such as ensuring the safety of those living in the impacted communities. While search and rescue and humanitarian responses are ongoing, the NOAA Marine Debris Program and other marine debris organizations gather critical information, maps, and debris reports to start the long process of addressing the storm debris.

Once debris response has begun, coordination between organizations and agencies is important. For many coastal states, the NOAA Marine Debris Program has facilitated the creation of Emergency Response Guides, which work to outline how this coordination should be implemented based on the resources of the organizations and agencies in that area. For instance, the Florida Marine Debris Emergency Response Guide was vital in assisting smooth coordination between groups in Florida when beginning response to debris from Hurricane Irma.

Before any debris can be removed, the resulting storm debris must first be assessed. Federal, state, or local responders are tasked with assessing coastal impacts. They often conduct their assessments in the field, but when that is not possible, they use tools such as aerial imagery and GIS applications such as NOAA’s Environmental Response Management Application.

Once impacts are assessed, priority items for removal can be identified. Priority items include debris that is likely to pose a hazard, such as a sunken vessel in a port. Once this assessment process has concluded, work begins to create a strategy for removal.

Response to the impacts of severe storms such as hurricanes is complex and requires the dedication of many, many hardworking people both on-site and behind the scenes. Unfortunately, the response to hurricane debris and the removal of non-hazardous items can take years.


The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council began their week-long September Meeting with a Full Council Session to discuss red snapper management in the South Atlantic. The Council voted to request a 2017 Red Snapper Emergency Action, which would allow for recreational and commercial harvest this year.

The request was sent to NOAA Fisheries and then on to the Secretary of Commerce. A decision is expected in the coming weeks and will be announced by NOAA Fisheries. For more details about the 2017 Emergency Action request, please refer to the Council’s earlier news release from September 25 and see the Council’s Story Map.

In addition to the 2017 Emergency Action request for red snapper, the Council continued to move forward with changes to red snapper management for 2018 with the approval of Snapper Grouper Regulatory Amendment 43 for formal review by the Secretary of Commerce. The amendment follows the same actions outlined in the 2017 Emergency Action request, setting a total annual catch limit of 42,510 fish to be harvested in 2018. If approved, the amendment is expected to go into effect in the summer of 2018 with the recreational fishery opening the second Friday in July (July 13, 2018) and the commercial fishery opening the second Monday in July (July 9, 2018).

Vision Blueprint Recreational Amendment

The Council continued development of Vision Blueprint Recreational Regulatory Amendment 26, an amendment born from stakeholder guidance during the Council’s visioning process and workshops. After much discussion, the Council agreed on restructuring the approach to the amendment to reflect how the fishery currently operates, consider predictable seasons, and simplify regulations. Under this new approach, the recreational aggregates would be divided into three groups—deep-water species; shallow-water groupers; and other shallow-water species.

Alternatives include options for modifications to bag limits, seasons for deep-water species and shallow-water groupers, and size limits for deep-water species and triggerfish that would help streamline the regulations for anglers, law enforcement, and managers. Council provided further guidance to staff, and development of the amendment will continue at the December Council Meeting.

Atlantic Cobia Management

Discussion on the future of cobia management in the South Atlantic continued this week through the development of Coastal Migratory Pelagics (CMP) Amendment 31. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) is currently holding public hearings to gather input from stakeholders about the Draft Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Migratory Group Cobia (GA-NY), a plan that complements federal regulations already in effect in the South Atlantic. Since drafting this plan, ASMFC has requested that the Council consider removing Atlantic Migratory Group Cobia from the federal Fishery Management Plan and transferring total management jurisdiction to the ASMFC. Fishermen from all corners of the region have expressed concerns about the current recreational cobia closure in federal waters.

To address public concerns, the Council began work on CMP Amendment 31, which proposes alternatives for a total transfer of jurisdiction or complementary management with ASMFC. The Council approved the alternatives in the document for further development and will continue to discuss the federal role in cobia management at the December meeting in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina.

Magnuson-Stevens Act Revision Discussion

The Council reviewed and approved modifications to the Council Coordinating Committee Working Paper that outlines the views of all 8 Councils on issues related to MSA Reauthorization. Impacts of various MSA-related senate and house bills were also reviewed. Topics include rebuilding timelines, annual catch limits, experimental fishing permits, recreational/commercial data needs, and many others. The Council expressed support for exploring ways to obtain more flexibility in managing recreational fisheries.

The next meeting of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council will be held December 4-8, 2017, in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. Additional information about this meeting, including an interactive story map, meeting report, and summary reports from each committee are available from the Council’s website at