Fish Post

Releases – August 2, 2018

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North Carolina will officially join a national effort that demonstrates the social, economic, and environmental importance of shellfish at a public event at the North Carolina State University Center for Marine Sciences and Technology (CMAST) on Aug. 2 from 10:00 a.m. until noon.

Michael Regan, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ), will announce Governor Cooper’s support for the North Carolina Shellfish Initiative. The statewide initiative is modeled after the National Shellfish Initiative — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) program to increase the population of shellfish in the nation’s coastal waters.

The North Carolina Shellfish Initiative will advance the State’s work to strengthen the coastal economy, create jobs,, and promote sustainable seafood and shellfish restoration.

The new state initiative prioritizes four goals: job creation, protection of water quality, protection of shellfish health, and sustainable management.

The North Carolina Shellfish Initiative reflects the growing importance of shellfish conservation and the industry’s benefits to the coastal economy. North Carolina is the sixth state in the country and the first in the Southeast to follow the federal model and establish an initiative to increase shellfish.

State shellfish initiatives provide a vehicle to leverage existing partnerships, grant programs, and regulatory authorities to maximize the benefits of shellfish. Establishing innovative partnerships among state agencies, local governments, the federal government, the shellfish industry, and nonprofit organizations is an effective and efficient way to maintain both vibrant coastal communities and healthy coastal ecosystems.

“North Carolina has a history of collaboration among public, private, and academic sectors to transform ideas into actions that advance shellfish restoration and mariculture,” said Dr. Ken Riley, a marine ecologist with NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. “Over the last 15 years, the state has garnered public attention with significant investment in shellfish restoration and the growth of the shellfish farms. NOAA is pleased to partner with the State contributing tools and expertise for siting shellfish farms and oyster restoration projects, which increase opportunities to sustainably harvest shellfish.”

By leveraging partnerships and sharing knowledge and resources through the North Carolina Shellfish Initiative, partners will be able to preserve the state’s rich shellfish history while also fostering a sustainable future.

For more information about the Initiative and its launch, visit or contact Erin Fleckenstein with the North Carolina Coastal Federation at


The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries is continuing efforts to better explain the health of the state’s fisheries by tying its annual stock overview report to terminology commonly used in peer reviewed stock assessments.

In this year’s report, the division no longer assigns fish stocks to one of the five former categories: viable, recovering, depleted, concern, and unknown. Instead, the stock status for a species is tied directly to the most recent peer reviewed stock assessment determination of overfishing and overfished/depleted.

Assigning species stock status to one of the former five categories had become increasingly difficult over time because definitions of the terms overlapped, and stock conditions were often in transition. Tying the stock status determinations to peer reviewed stock assessments removes subjectivity. For species that do not have an overfishing/overfished status, the report still documents trends in biological data and summarizes management.

It is the second consecutive year that the division has substantially changed the stock overview. Last year, the division altered the format of the report to clarify the role the state plays in management of each species, separating state-managed species from those cooperatively managed through a federal or interstate entity.

Three state managed species warrant notation in this year’s stock overview:

Blue crab – Results of the 2018 benchmark stock assessment indicate the blue crab stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring. This assessment passed peer review and the model was accepted for use in management. The division is developing Amendment 3 to the Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan in conjunction with an advisory committee.

Striped mullet – Amendment 1 to the N.C. Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan, adopted in 2015, requires the division to initiate further analysis of the striped mullet data if commercial landings fall below 1.13 million pounds or above 2.76 million pounds in any given year. In 2016, commercial landings of striped mullet fell below the 1.13 million pound minimum to 964,348 pounds, triggering the analysis. A 2018 update of the state’s 2013 striped mullet stock assessment found that overfishing is not occurring; however, it cannot be determined if the stock is overfished. The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will discuss potential management options at its August meeting.

Southern flounder – A January 2018 stock assessment of southern flounder in the south Atlantic indicated that the stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring. This assessment passed peer review, and the model was accepted for use in management with the condition that it be updated with information through 2017 so management is based on the most current data available. The update is underway and expected to be complete this fall. The division is developing Amendment 2 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan in conjunction with an advisory committee.

For more information, read the entire 2018 Stock Overview and read this month’s Division of Marine Fisheries INSIGHT newsletter or contact Division Biologist Lee Paramore at or (252) 473-5734.


The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Artificial Reef Program will hold four public meetings in August to provide information and solicit public comment on a proposed four-year artificial reef enhancement plan. At each meeting, the Artificial Reef Program will be seeking partners for regional reef enhancement projects.

An artificial reef is a manmade underwater structure, typically built to promote marine life in areas with a generally featureless bottom. In North Carolina, they serve as crucial spawning and foraging habitat for many commercially and recreationally important fish species.

The division maintains 43 ocean artificial reefs, located from one-half mile to 38 miles from shore and situated so that they can be reached from every maintained inlet in the state.

Interested parties may speak at any of the below meetings or submit comments through email to Jordan Byrum, artificial reef coordinator, at The deadline for public comment is Aug. 24.

The meeting dates and locations are:

August 6 at 6:00 p.m., DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Raleigh – Brownstone – University, 1707 Hillsborough St., Raleigh

August 7 at 6:00 p.m., Ocracoke Community Center, 999 Irvin Garrish Highway, Ocracoke

August 8 at 6:00 p.m., N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, Wilmington Regional Office, 127 Cardinal Drive, Wilmington

August 9 at 6:00 p.m., N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’, Central District Office, 5285 Highway 70 West, Morehead City


The 3rd Annual Fishing for the Future Kid’s Fishing Tournament is scheduled for Saturday, August 11, in Swansboro, once again in conjunction with the Hook & Bones Redfish Open. The tournament is free and open to all children under 18 with two divisions: 13-17 years old, and 12 and under.

The tournament is an inshore all catch-and-release tournament with prizes awarded for the longest redfish and flounder, and for the most fish caught in both age divisions, plus a few additional fun categories.

CCA NC Executive Board member Shelley Smith from Swansboro will once again Chair the event and is actively recruiting sponsors to make sure all of the kids receive a special Fishing for the Future swag bucket filled with all sorts of cool gear.

To find out how you can help, please contact Shelley through or visit the website to register your kids at