Releases – November 15, 2018
The commercial harvest of Atlantic migratory group spanish mackerel northern zone in federal waters will close at 12:01 a.m., local time, on November 4, 2018, and will re-open on March 1, 2019. The northern zone for Atlantic migratory group spanish mackerel includes federal waters from North Carolina through New York.
During the commercial closure, harvest or possession of spanish mackerel in or from the northern zone federal waters is limited to the recreational bag and possession limits while the recreational sector is open, but those fish may not be sold.
Commercial landings are projected to reach the commercial quota for Atlantic migratory group spanish mackerel northern zone. According to the accountability measure, harvest must close to prevent the quota from being exceeded.
During the closure, please be aware of the following:
(1) The prohibition on sale or purchase during a closure for Spanish mackerel does not apply to fish that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, November 4, 2018, and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor.
(2) During the closure, a person on board a vessel that has been issued a valid Federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit for coastal migratory pelagic fish may continue to retain Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel in the northern zone under the recreational bag and possession limits, as long as the recreational sector for Atlantic migratory group Spanish mackerel is open.
The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is asking fishermen to make sure they know how to distinguish between black drum and sheepshead before keeping one of the fish.
Confusing these two fish is problematic because of there is a 4-inch difference in the minimum size limit.
The legal-size limit for black drum is a minimum of 14 inches and a maximum of 25 inches total length (except one fish per day may be over 25 inches). Total length is measured along the midline from the tip of the compressed tail to the tip of the snout.
The minimum size limit for sheepshead is 10 inches fork length. Fork length is measured from the fork in the tail to the tip of the snout.
The bag limit is 10 fish for both species.
Fishermen who get these species mixed up may face up to $255 in fines and court costs. To avoid this, fishermen need to learn to tell the difference between the two fish.
While both fish have vertical black stripes, there are easily identifiable differences. On a sheepshead, the first and second dorsal fin (upper-most fins) is fully connected; on a black drum, the first dorsal fin is distinct from the second dorsal fin. Sheepshead have prominent, human-like, front teeth, while the black drum teeth are not as prominent and are located in the back of the throat. Also, black drum have chin barbels (whisker-like filament), and sheepshead do not.
CCA NC applauds Gov. Roy Cooper’s request for federal aid to help fishermen, fisheries businesses, and marinas hit by Hurricane Florence, said David Sneed, Executive Director of the conservation organization.
In a November 1 letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Cooper called Florence “the storm of a lifetime” that created significant economic damage to the state’s fisheries and the coastal communities that depend on them. “While state appropriations will begin to afford some limited initial relief, much more is needed,” he wrote.
Citing the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Act, the governor asked Secretary Ross to declare a federal fishery resources disaster that would provide funds for “a longer-term recovery that North Carolina fishermen so desperately need.”
Cooper estimated there are about 6,000 commercial fishermen and over one million recreational anglers who depend on the state’s marine resources. The legislature has given the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries $1.6 million to compensate commercial fishermen and shellfish harvesters to compensate them for equipment and income loss.
“We are excited to hear that Gov. Cooper has not forgotten about the important economic role our state’s fisheries play in North Carolina,” Sneed said.
Marine fisheries contribute heavily to the economies of coastal communities, he continued. Recreational fishing generates $1.6 billion of economic impact to North Carolina, while commercial fishing comes in at $0.4 billion. The newest Marine Recreational Information Program data increases recreational impact by about three times, making it worth closer to $5 billion, Sneed added.
CCA NC thanks the governor for valuing all of the stakeholders in our state’s fisheries. “We hope this request includes some help for our coastal restaurants, motels, tackle shops, marinas, and fishing guides, as well as commercial fishermen,” Sneed said.
“It’s important that the governor has recognized the devastating impact these storms have had on our fishing communities,” said Bert Owens, CCA NC President, “but we do not need to lose sight of the real opportunity we have to grow our total fishing economy by improving management.” CCA NC supported the NC Sound Economy economic study that showed reversing the declining trends in our state managed fish stocks would provide an even greater economic impact to the state’s coastal economy.
If all eight of the species looked at in the study are managed for conservation, the state could gain a 30-year economic benefit of $829.7 million dollars on $4.2 billion in total sales that create 1,493 additional jobs worth $1.6 billion in labor income. This is in addition to the current level of fisheries-related economic benefits.
Despite the Outer Banks’ disproportionately large contribution in fishing license fees, some say the region has been shorted its share of artificial fishing reefs, compared with the rest of the North Carolina coast.
Outer Banks Anglers Club president Alan Buchfuhrer said recently that Dare County anglers pay the second highest amount of recreational fishing license fees in the state, about $1 million annually, behind Wake County, and it sells twice as many licenses as the second-ranked coastal county, Carteret.
But the anglers club is looking forward to approval within months of a permit that will allow construction of a new recreational fishing reef off Oregon Inlet – a welcomed benefit of their license fees.
Nearly three years after the 115-member nonprofit group first formed the Oregon Inlet Artificial Reef Committee to apply for funds from the state Division of Marine Fisheries, it has a $887,000 grant in hand for a proposed two-year project to construct a reef south of the Oregon Inlet sea buoy.
The artificial reef, known as AR-165, is planned to be built from a combination of a large, sunken vessel and reinforced concrete pipes. Paid for by the state Coastal Recreational Fishing License Grants Program in addition to $20,000 in matching funds donated by TW’s Bait & Tackle, Manteo Marine, and Southern Bank, the reef will be built within state waters 8 miles south of Oregon Inlet.
The required Coastal Area Management Act, or CAMA, major permit has been approved for AR-165. After a second permit from the Army Corps of Engineers is issued, which could take six months or more, the project can start.
The 10-year-old program designates $500,000 a year to a region on a rotating basis. Next up on the list for reef funding is Ocracoke, he said.
Although the Outer Banks has been late in getting in the reef rotation, Byrum said, it is also getting a bonus no other area is receiving.
Once the old Bonner Bridge is demolished next year, about 80 tons of material will be deposited by the contractor at each of four deteriorated reefs located between 2.5 miles and 4 miles off the beach. Marked AR-130, -140 and -145, located northeast of the inlet, each will receive 15 percent of the debris, and AR-160, south of the inlet in state waters, will receive 55 percent.
According to the Anglers Club, construction of AR-165 will involve sinking a 100-foot to 140-foot ship and dumping a total of 8,000 tons of assorted concrete pipe from barges over two years.
Recreational anglers cite a lot of reasons for choosing their favorite locations to fish, but one thing it better be is close to home. AnglerSurvey.com recently polled anglers on what was most important to them when choosing a place to cast a line and found that nearly 60 percent of them placed proximity to home as a key factor.
In the survey where respondents could cite multiple factors that play into their decisions, past fishing success (47 percent), having a quiet place to fish (45 percent), and the availability of fish, particularly those they are seeking to catch (44 percent) were also very important.
Other factors in order of how many respondents selected them include: water quality (24 percent); location is recommended by a friend or family member (14 percent); how much it costs to fish there (13 percent); available parking (12 percent); nonboat access (8 percent); and the size of the body of water (7 percent).
“Fishing is an activity that can be enjoyed for an hour or two before or after work or school or when there is a little down time in a person’s life, so convenience and the ability to run out, fish, and get back home are first and foremost in many anglers’ minds,” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts the surveys at HunterSurvey.com, ShooterSurvey.com, and AnglerSurvey.com. “Efforts on behalf of the fishing community to bring fishing opportunities and access into suburban and urban neighborhoods may be a critical part of efforts to maintain fishing’s future.”