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July 22, 2015

Pamlico, Pungo Neuse and Bay rivers to close to all anchored gill nets


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Pat McCrory, Governor                                            
Donald R. van der Vaart, Secretary     N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

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

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Pamlico, Pungo Neuse and Bay rivers to close to all anchored gill nets

MOREHEAD CITY – Some rivers and creeks in the central coastal area will close to all anchored gill nets at 5 p.m. Thursday due to interactions with sea turtles.
The action closes Management Unit C under the state’s Sea Turtle Incidental Take Permit, which includes the Pamlico, Pungo Neuse and Bay Rivers and their tributaries. The closure impacts both large-mesh and small- mesh anchored gill nets, including those set under a Recreational Commercial Gear License.

The closure is to comply with a modification to the incidental take permit that consolidates the number of allowed sea turtle takes in Management Units A and C for a total of eight turtles.

Management Unit A, which includes all of Albemarle, Currituck, Croatan and Roanoke sounds and their tributaries, closed to large-mesh and small- mesh anchored gill nets June 12 after staff with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries observed interactions with five live and one dead sea turtles in anchored gill nets.  There were two observed interactions with sea turtles in Management Unit C during the current Incidental Take Permit Year.

The total observed interactions with sea turtles in anchored gill nets for Management Units A and C is now at eight, and must close under the Sea Turtle Incidental Take Permit provisions.

“It is our hope that in future years this will provide more flexibility for managing these two areas,” said division Director Louis Daniel.

Waters in Management Unit C will not reopen to anchored gill nets until at least Sept. 1. The reopening could occur later, depending on the abundance of sea turtles in the area at that time.

For more specifics on gill net restrictions in Management Unit C, see Proclamation M-12-2015 at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamations.

North Carolina’s estuarine gill net fishery is managed under incidental take permits for sea turtles and Atlantic sturgeon. The permits are issued to the state by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The permits authorize limited takes of these species, listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, as part of conservation plans that divide the state’s internal coastal waters into management units. The permits require observer coverage, so that the management units are closely monitored for interactions with sea turtles and Atlantic sturgeon. An annual number of allowed interactions with each species is assigned to each gear type in each management unit. If the number of interactions is approached, the management unit must close for the remainder of the season or year.
  
For more information, contact Jacob Boyd, with the division’s Observer Program, at 252-808-8088 or via email at Jacob.Boyd@ncdenr.gov.

Patricia Smith
Public Information Officer
N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries
3441 Arendell St.
Morehead City, N.C. 28557
(252) 808-8025 (Office)
(252) 342-0642 (Mobile)

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