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April 21, 2015

[DENR.DMF.NewsRelease] New fisheries rules go into effect May 1

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Read his news release HERE.


Pat McCrory, Governor                                             
Donald R. van der Vaart, Secretary



N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Release: Immediate                                                                                  Contact: Patricia Smith                               
Date: April 21, 2015                                                                                Phone: 252-726-7021

New fisheries rules go into effect May 1

MOREHEAD CITY – Several new rules pertaining to various issues, including implementation of the shrimp, river herring, eel and bay scallop fishery management plans, will go into effect May 1.

Rules implementing an amendment to the N.C. Shrimp Fishery Management Plan include:
  • Modifying the definition of mesh length to apply to diamond-mesh and square-mesh nets in support of a management strategy to require an additional bycatch reduction device in skimmer and otter trawls, which can include a square-mesh T-90 panel.
  • Codifying an existing management strategy prohibiting the use of trawl nets, except skimmer trawls, upstream of the N.C. 172 Bridge over the New River in Onslow County to continue reducing bycatch.
  • Clarifying the Division of Marine Fisheries director’s proclamation authority for shrimp harvest restrictions;
  • Establishing a maximum combined headrope length of 220 feet in all internal coastal waters where there are no existing maximum combined headrope requirements, allowing for a phase-out period until Jan. 1, 2017.
  • Allowing cast-netting of shrimp in all areas otherwise closed to shrimping and increasing the harvest limit in these areas to 4 quarts, heads-on, or 2 ½ quarts, heads-off.
  • Prohibiting shrimp trawling in the Intracoastal Waterway channel from the Sunset Beach Bridge to the South Carolina line, including the Shallotte River, Eastern Channel and lower Calabash River, to protect small shrimp.

Rules implementing an amendment to the N.C. River Herring Fishery Management Plan include:
  • Removing blueback herring and alewife from the exemption for possession of mutilated finfish.
  • Changing the boundary coordinates of the Anadromous Fish Spawning Area to reflect companion changes previously made to the Albemarle Sound and Roanoke River management areas.
  • Relocating the description and boundaries of the Chowan River and Albemarle Sound River Herring Management Areas from Subchapter 03J to Subchapter 03R in the rulebook for improved organization and public clarity.

Rules Implementing Addendum III to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Fishery Management Plan for American Eel include:
  • Requiring a minimum mesh length of one-half by one-half inch for eel pots, with a phase-in period until Jan. 1, 2017.
  • Increasing the American eel minimum size limit to 9 inches, decreasing the recreational bag limit to 25 fish and implementing a Sept. 1 - Dec. 31 season closure, unless the eels are taken with baited pots.

Rules to implement an amendment to the N.C. Bay Scallop Fishery Management Plan include:
  • Making bay scallops rules consistent with those of other shellfish species grown on private bottom by exempting leaseholders and aquaculture operations from the public bottom commercial season, gear and harvest limits and allowing for the sale of cultured bay scallops. 
  • Eliminating the Aug. 1 through Sept. 15 bay scallop season and lower the maximum daily commercial harvest possession limit to be consistent with adaptive management trip limit measures.

Rules impacting for-hire fishing operations and ocean fishing piers include:
  • Eliminating the current For-Hire Permit and Coastal Recreational Fishing License blanket licenses and replace them with a captain’s for-hire license, a blanket for-hire vessel license, and a non-blanket for-hire vessel license, to be consistent with current state law.
  • Combining two separate ocean pier licenses into one Ocean Fishing Pier License with the same net cost. 

Other rules effective May 1 include:
  • Updating and relocating a rule that provides the Division of Marine Fisheries director’s authority to issue proclamations to resolve user conflicts concerning public trust resources.
  • Updating the name of a canal in Brunswick County.
  • Removing the permit fee for the Atlantic Ocean Striped Bass Commercial Gear Permit, which is now provided in statute, and eliminating theNov. 1 deadline to purchase the annual permit.
  • Correcting an error in the inland/coastal waters boundary line in Queens Creek, Onslow County.
  • Correcting grammatical errors and spacing in several rules.
  • Modifying rules pertaining to the Division of Marine Fisheries director’s proclamation authority, for consistency.

The rules will be included in 2015 North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission Rules (2015 rulebook) and will be posted online athttp://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/rules-and-regulations by May 1.

For more information contact Catherine Blum, with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, at 252-808-8014 or Catherine.Blum@ncdenr.gov.

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