Fish Post

Releases – August 16, 2018

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The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s South Atlantic State/Federal Fisheries Management Board approved for public comment the Public Information Document (PID) for Draft Amendment 1 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Atlantic Migratory Group Cobia (Atlantic cobia). As the first step in the amendment process, the document seeks input from stakeholders and those interested in Atlantic cobia about changes observed in the fishery/resource and potential management measures.

Draft Amendment 1 was initiated in anticipation of removal of Atlantic cobia from the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils’ (SAFMC and GMFMC, respectively) Fishery Management Plan for Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources (CMP FMP). Both Councils approved removal of Atlantic cobia from the CMP FMP earlier this year, and this action is now pending review by the Secretary of Commerce. If approved by the Secretary of Commerce, there would no longer be a federal management plan for Atlantic cobia, and the Commission would become the sole management body for this stock.

The PID outlines three main issues: recommended management for federal waters, a harvest specification process, and biological monitoring requirements. If Atlantic cobia is removed from the CMP FMP, the Commission will need to develop management measures to be recommended for implementation by NOAA Fisheries in federal waters, since a portion of the fishery occurs offshore. Additionally, several management measures within the Interstate FMP are dependent upon the CMP FMP, meaning that these measures will need to be redefined to continue management in state waters.

A harvest specification process would allow the Board to periodically (e.g. annually or biennially) set certain management measures through a Board vote without having to gather input via public hearings as done through an addendum or amendment process. This would expedite the Board’s decision-making process for measures where states commonly gather public input through their administrative process. The Board and members of the public have expressed a desire to change some of the current FMP management measures, and this could be accomplished through a harvest specification process.

Finally, biological monitoring programs have been recommended for Board consideration by the Cobia Plan Development Team and Technical Committee. Information obtained by such programs, like ages or lengths, can provide important information beyond harvest estimates to managers as they make decisions.

Stakeholders are encouraged to provide input on the PID either by attending state public hearings or providing written comment. The PID can be obtained at or via the Commission’s website,, under Public Input.

Public comment will be accepted until 5:00 pm on October 4, 2018, and should be forwarded to Dr. Michael Schmidtke, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St, Suite A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; (703) 842-0741 (FAX) or at (Subject line: Cobia PID).

If your organization is planning to release an action alert related to the Amendment 1 PID, please contact Michael Schmidtke at prior to its release.

It is anticipated the states of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, and potentially Maryland or Delaware will be conducting public hearings in September 2018. A subsequent press release will provide the details of those hearings.

The Management Board will meet at the Commission’s 2018 Annual Meeting in October to review and consider public comment and provide direction to staff for items to be included in Draft Amendment 1.


Gov. Cooper has appointed the following individuals to the Marine Fisheries Commission:

(1) Rob Bizzell of Kinston as a Recreation Sports Fisherman & Chair. Bizzell is the Founder of Realo Discount Drug Stores, and the co-founder of Carolina Home Medical. Bizzell served as the President for the North Carolina Pharmaceutical Association and Chair of the Marine Fisheries Commission.

(2) Mike Blanton of Elizabeth City as a Commercial Fisherman. Blanton fishes full-time in the Albemarle Sound. He currently serves as the proxy for the North Carolina Legislative Appointee to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

(3) Tom Hendrickson of Zebulon and Harkers Island as a member-at-large. He is an attorney and businessman who works in real estate development and commercial real estate investment and management, including apartments in New Bern and affordable housing in Charlotte. He also serves on the Global Transpark Authority and was the Founding Chairman of North State Bank.


The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is accepting public comment on 41 existing rules that are up for re-adoption under a state-mandated periodic review schedule.

A public hearing will be held at 6:00 p.m. on Aug. 22 at the Division of Marine Fisheries’ Central District Office, 5285 Highway 70 West, Morehead City. The public may also comment in writing to division Rules Coordinator Catherine Blum at or P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557. The deadline for written comments is Oct. 1.

Up for re-adoption are a portion of existing fisheries rules in 15A NCAC 03I, 03J, 03K, 03L, 03M, 03O, and 03R. The primary proposed changes are to: (1) Bring the rule language pertaining to the For-Hire Coastal Recreational Fishing Licenses in 15A NCAC 03O .0112 into conformity with current state law; (2) Alphabetize the permits and delete two obsolete permits in 15A NCAC 03O .0501 and .0503. The permits to be deleted are the Albemarle Sound Management Area for River Herring Dealer Permit; and the Permit to Waive the Requirement to use Turtle Excluder Devices in the Atlantic Ocean.

Other proposed changes are technical in nature. For specific wording of the rule changes, go to the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission’s Proposed Rules Page.

State law requires state agencies to review its existing rules at least once every 10 years. This is the first of four division rule packages in 15A NCAC 03 that will be up for re-adoption over a four-year period.

For more information, contact Blum at (252) 808-8014.


The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) are soliciting public input on a draft amendment to address several potential changes to the management of the commercial summer flounder fishery, as well as modifications to the fishery management plan (FMP) goals and objectives for summer flounder. Ten public hearings will be held between September 10 and September 27. Written comments will be accepted through October 12, 2018.

The specific issues under consideration in this amendment include:

  1. Requalifying criteria for federal commercial moratorium permits to address latent effort in the fishery: The amendment includes options to reduce the number of eligible commercial federal moratorium permits by implementing requalifying criteria for existing permits.
  2. Modifying commercial quota allocation: The amendment proposes several options for revising the current commercial allocation to the states, which has been in place since 1993 and is based on average landings from 1980-1989.
  3. Adding commercial landings flexibility as a framework issue in the Council’s FMP: This action does not consider implementing landings flexibility policies at this time but considers allowing the Council to implement landings flexibility through a future framework action instead of an amendment. The Commission’s adaptive management process already allows for landings flexibility.
  4. Revising the FMP objectives for summer flounder: This amendment proposes revisions to the current FMP objectives for summer flounder management to provide more meaningful and up-to-date guidance to managers.

Additional information about the amendment and the management alternatives being considered can be found on the Council’s website at and on the Commission’s website at This information includes three documents: (1) the Public Hearing Document, which includes all proposed management changes and was developed to solicit public comment; (2) the Commission’s Draft Amendment; and (3) the Council’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Both the Commission’s Draft Amendment and the Council’s DEIS are required under their respective regulatory processes.