OUR FISHERMEN ARE

DEDICATED TO SUSTAINABILITY

We’re a national leader in bycatch reduction and are dedicated to developing gear and best practices that will preserve our fisheries for generations to come.

All of North Carolina’s recreationally and commercially important fisheries are required by law to be managed for sustainability. This law is called the Fisheries Reform Act (FRA). The FRA was adopted in 1997 and contains the legal framework for the fishery management process that North Carolina’s managers must adhere to.

The FRA requires that all species of commercial and recreational importance have a management plan. The purpose of the management plan is to achieve sustainability and assure that fish stocks produce an optimal yield for fishermen to harvest. To achieve this, our managers carefully monitor our fisheries and regularly assess the health of individual fish stocks. When managers determine that the long-term sustainability of a stock may be in jeopardy due to fishing pressure (overfishing) or other natural factors, they are required to adopt rules that will restore sustainability. If the stock is determined to be overfished, state law requires that both recreational and commercial harvest must be reduced to a level that will end overfishing within two years.

Management plans are reviewed every five years to monitor their effectiveness and make sure they are based on the best available science. This management process is viewed by many as one of the best in the country and has provided the citizens of North Carolina with one of the best recreational fisheries in the nation and a sustainable source of wild caught seafood since 1997.

Sustainability is required by law.

All of North Carolina’s recreationally and commercially important fisheries are required by law to be managed for sustainability. This law is called the Fisheries Reform Act (FRA). The FRA was adopted in 1997 and contains the legal framework for the fishery management process that North Carolina’s managers must adhere to.

The FRA requires that all species of commercial and recreational importance have a management plan. The purpose of the management plan is to achieve sustainability and assure that fish stocks produce an optimal yield for fishermen to harvest. To achieve this, our managers carefully monitor our fisheries and regularly assess the health of individual fish stocks. When managers determine that the long-term sustainability of a stock may be in jeopardy due to fishing pressure (overfishing) or other natural factors, they are required to adopt rules that will restore sustainability. If the stock is determined to be overfished, state law requires that both recreational and commercial harvest must be reduced to a level that will end overfishing within two years.

Management plans are reviewed every five years to monitor their effectiveness and make sure they are based on the best available science. This management process is viewed by many as one of the best in the country and has provided the citizens of North Carolina with one of the best recreational fisheries in the nation and a sustainable source of wild caught seafood since 1997.

Sustainability is required by law.

What is Bycatch and should I be concerned?

Bycatch occurs when any species of marine life of any size is accidentally caught while targeting another species and occurs in every commercial and recreational fishery in the world. Sometimes bycatch is returned to the water due to regulations restricting its retention (regulatory discard) or it may simply be unwanted or not valued as a food source. Other times the bycatch is retained for sale or personal consumption and is often a prized part of a commercial or recreational fisherman’s catch. In recent years the term bycatch has been viewed in a negative light, but as many fishermen have learned, the fish you didn’t intend to catch may simply be a trophy you did not expect.

Yes, everyone should be concerned about bycatch and we should all strive to reduce bycatch whenever possible. However, we should also be aware that as long as commercial and recreational fisheries exist, there will always be some degree of bycatch. But when reduced to sustainable levels, the negative impacts of bycatch are minimal. 

North Carolina’s commercial fishing industry has a long and proud history of working with managers to reduce bycatch, whether it’s the bycatch of juvenile finfish or the incidental catch of endangered sea turtles. North Carolina has been, and will continue to be, a national leader in the bycatch reduction effort.

One of the first efforts to reduce the bycatch of juvenile finfish in North Carolina was to identify and designate nursery areas for juvenile finfish, shrimp, and crabs. This effort was supported by the commercial fishermen and has resulted in approximately 170,000 acres of estuarine habitat being designated as nursery areas. Trawling in these designated nursery areas is prohibited, or in some cases severely restricted, to protect vital habitat and provide a sanctuary for juvenile development. After more than 35 years, North Carolina remains the only state that has formally designated nursery areas.

NC Fishermen have also played a key role in developing and testing finfish excluders for shrimp trawls, which allow up to 70% of juvenile finfish to escape the trawl. Because of these efforts, North Carolina was the first state to require fish excluders in shrimp trawls in all internal waters.

One of the biggest success stories in bycatch reduction was the development of the Turtle Excluder Device, which allows endangered sea turtles to escape shrimp trawls uninjured. Once again, NC fishermen stepped up to work with State and Federal managers to perfect this device which now boasts nearly a 100% reduction in the bycatch of endangered sea turtles.

North Carolina fishermen continue to lead the nation in bycatch reduction and are currently working to test innovative new devices which promise to further reduce bycatch in the future.

What have we done to reduce bycatch?

One of the first efforts to reduce the bycatch of juvenile finfish in North Carolina was to identify and designate nursery areas for juvenile finfish, shrimp, and crabs. This effort was supported by the commercial fishermen and has resulted in approximately 170,000 acres of estuarine habitat being designated as nursery areas. Trawling in these designated nursery areas is prohibited, or in some cases severely restricted, to protect vital habitat and provide a sanctuary for juvenile development. After more than 35 years, North Carolina remains the only state that has formally designated nursery areas.

NC Fishermen have also played a key role in developing and testing finfish excluders for shrimp trawls, which allow up to 70% of juvenile finfish to escape the trawl. Because of these efforts, North Carolina was the first state to require fish excluders in shrimp trawls in all internal waters.

One of the biggest success stories in bycatch reduction was the development of the Turtle Excluder Device, which allows endangered sea turtles to escape shrimp trawls uninjured. Once again, NC fishermen stepped up to work with State and Federal managers to perfect this device which now boasts nearly a 100% reduction in the bycatch of endangered sea turtles.

North Carolina fishermen continue to lead the nation in bycatch reduction and are currently working to test innovative new devices which promise to further reduce bycatch in the future.

What have we done to reduce bycatch?

 
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