Releases – June 6, 2019
The North Carolina Division of Water Resources is currently investigating the numerous dead or dying fish found recently in the lower portion of the Neuse River, the state Department of Environmental Quality recently announced.
Staff observed the numerous dead or dying menhaden with 3- to 5-inch-long severe lesions during the past several days in the Neuse River from Flanners Beach to Carolina Pines. Dead fish may continue to surface in the area over the coming days.
Staff and other scientists are working to analyze the fish to learn the cause, which does not appear to be water quality parameters, such as dissolved oxygen, according to the release. Conditions will continue to be monitored and updates will be provided when information is available.
The public is being advised to avoid contact with water where the distressed fish are being observed.
The state Department of Health and Human Services recommends not going in the water while these conditions exist; do not eat, use, or collect any fish, crabs, other animals, or items from these waters; and do not let pets swim in or eat fish from these waters.
If you come in contact with the water where fish or shellfish are dead, dying, appear sick, or have sores, take the following precautions: (1) remove wet clothing and keep it separate from other items until it has been washed; (2) wash any body part, except the eyes, that comes into contact with the waters, using soap and clean water. Rinse eyes with lots of clear, clean water; (3) use waterproof gloves when handling pets and items that have come into contact with the waters; and (4) see your doctor or health provider if you experience any symptoms such as confusion, vomiting, diarrhea, or skin rash that might be caused by exposure to these waters.
Residents can use the DEQ fish kill app to report fish kills to DEQ staff for investigation. A map of all fish kill events occurring in 2019 is on the Division of Water Resources’ website.
This press release is courtesy of Coastal Review Online, a nonprofit news service and a member of the North Carolina Press Association.
The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is accepting public comment on proposed southern flounder management measures intended to significantly reduce commercial and recreational southern flounder harvest to end overfishing and rebuild the overfished stock, as required by law.
Draft Amendment 2 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan contains options for several seasonal harvest closure scenarios to achieve up to a 72% reduction in southern flounder harvest for the commercial and recreational fishing sectors. Additionally, at the request of the Marine Fisheries Commission, the draft amendment includes an option for a partial moratorium.
Options for non-quantifiable management measures to constrain effort, such as yardage and time restrictions for gill nets and daily harvest limits for pound nets and gigs, are included in the draft amendment as well.
Details of the proposed management measures can be found on the Information on Southern Flounder Amendment page on the division’s website.
Southern flounder is one of three main species of flounder landed on the North Carolina coast. The other two species are summer flounder and Gulf flounder.
Reductions in harvest are required because a 2019 South Atlantic Southern Flounder Stock Assessment found that southern flounder is overfished and overfishing is occurring throughout the region. Overfished means the population is too small. Overfishing means the removal rate is too high. North Carolina law mandates that fishery management plans include measures to end overfishing within two years of adoption and rebuild the stock to achieve sustainable harvest within 10 years of adoption. A harvest reduction of at least 52% is needed to meet the statutory requirements.
To increase the probability of successfully rebuilding the resource, the division proposes a 62% reduction in southern flounder harvest (compared to 2017) in North Carolina this year and a 72% reduction in harvest beginning in 2020 until adoption and implementation of Amendment 3 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan, scheduled for completion in 2021.
The Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan Advisory Committee, based on preliminary information, recommended a 31% reduction in commercial harvest (compared to 2017) and a 33% reduction in recreational hook and line harvest in 2019 (compared to 2017), increasing to a 52% reduction in commercial and recreational harvest in 2020. The advisory committee’s recommendation meets statutory requirements to end overfishing in two years but does not rebuild the stock to sustainable harvest within 10 years.
NOAA Fisheries is accepting comments on an application for an exempted fishing permit (EFP) from the North Carolina Aquarium. The objective of this project is to incorporate North Carolina native species, including snapper-grouper, corals, and dolphin fish, into the educational exhibits at four aquariums located on Roanoke Island, Pine Knoll Shores, Fort Fisher, and Jeanette’s Pier, North Carolina.
Sampling would occur year-round along the North Carolina coast from latitude 33○10’ N. up to 36○30’ N, from three miles out to 100 fathoms depth offshore. SCUBA, hook-and-line gear, and limited pot/trap gear would be used. Finally, collection with black sea bass pots and minnow traps would only occur from May through October.
NOAA Fisheries finds this application warrants further consideration and is seeking public comment on the application. A final decision on issuance of the EFP will depend on NOAA Fisheries’ review of public comments received, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s recommendations, consultations with the affected states and the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as a determination that it is consistent with all applicable laws.
The comment period is open now through June 24, 2019. You may submit comments by electronic submission or by postal mail. Comments sent by any other method (such as e-mail), to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NOAA Fisheries.
Application information can be found at www.fisheries.noaa.gov/southeast/north-carolina-aquarium-exempted-fishing-permit-application.
Submit all electronic public comments via the e-Rulemaking portal: (1) go to www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAA-NMFS-2019-0051; (2) click the “Comment Now!” icon and complete the required fields; and (3) enter or attach your comments.
Submit written comments to Frank Helies, NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Office, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
Costa Sunglasses, a company committed to protecting our watery world, is launching new sunglasses, optical frames, frame colors, and apparel as part of its growing OCEARCH Collection. This collection supports OCEARCH, an at-sea lab led by explorers and researchers who generate critical data and put science on the side of sharks. Costa’s long-term partnership with OCEARCH deepens its commitment to protect the lifeblood of our oceans.
“The research OCEARCH is doing is critical to the health of our oceans and is providing important data to help protect the balance of its ecosystem,” said T.J. McMeniman, vice president of marketing for Costa Sunglasses. “Supporting this research is core to Costa’s commitment to conservation and has been a long-standing partnership that the company, and its people, remain extremely passionate about.”
A portion of the proceeds from each sale of sunglasses, optical frames, and apparel in the OCEARCH Collection goes to the support of OCEARCH and its mission to protect sharks. Through this collection, Costa is working to help keep our oceans balanced through awareness and funding of OCEARCH expeditions.