Upcoming MFC Meeting
The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) will meet February 21-23 at:
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel New Bern Riverfront
100 Middle Street, New Bern, NC 28560
The meeting will also be able to viewed online at this link: Join the Meeting Online
In person Public comment can be made at 6 pm Wednesday, February 21st and at 9 am on Thursday, February 22nd.
Written public comment can also be submitted:
Online: Submit written comments online
Mailed: mail to February 2024 Marine Fisheries Commission Meeting Comments, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, NC 28557
Dropped off: at the Division of Marine Fisheries’ Morehead City Headquarters Office at 3441 Arendell Street, Morehead City.
Written comment must be received by 4 pm Monday, February 19th.
Meeting agenda: Meeting Agenda
Complete briefing book: Complete Briefing Book
Issues of Importance
The MFC will vote on their preferred management options before being sent out for DEQ Secretary and legislative review. Important to note, the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) has also changed their preferred management option.
The new preferred management option of the DMF is:
Saturday and Sunday striped mullet harvest closure January-September
Saturday, Sunday, and Monday! harvest closure October-December
The decision document starts on page 4 here: https://www.deq.nc.gov/marine-fisheries/marine-fisheries-commission/february-2024/fmp-documents/open
Shrimp Trawl Area Closures:
The DMF will be presenting a paper outlining protecting submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) through shrimp trawl area closures. This paper discusses the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan (CHPP) and discusses the importance of SAVs, which we all agree on. This paper also lacks any scientific evidence or even a remote estimate of how much benefit these trawl area closures (or previous trawl area closures) will have on restoring and protecting SAV.
These closures stretch from Dare County all the way to Onslow county and include over a dozen areas that will mostly affect small otter trawl and skimmer trawl boats. The entire paper is found on pages 134-156 and the proposed closures areas are highlighted in pink on pages 150-156 of this document: Fishery Management Plans
False Albacore Rule Making:
The DMF has developed rule making language to cap harvest in the NC false albacore fishery. If passed by the MFC this rule would trigger the DMF Director to issue a proclamation setting recreational bag limits of 10 fish per person, not to exceed 30 per vessel and a 3,500 pound commercial trip limit if the combined recreational and commercial false albacore landings exceed 200 percent of the five year average from 2018-2022.
Detailed information can be found here and the exact rule making language is on page 20: https://www.deq.nc.gov/marine-fisheries/marine-fisheries-commission/february-2024/rulemaking/open
As you can see, there is once again a lot going on at DMF. Stay tuned as we will have more detailed information available next week and if you have any questions or concerns please reach out.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: 2.12.2024
WANCHESE FISH COMPANY CLOSING
The big news this week is the announcement by Cooke Seafood USA that they will close Wanchese Fish Company in Wanchese, NC. The facility will cease operations the end of March, ending nearly 80 years in Dare County.
Cooke acquired the company from the Daniels family in 2015.
The vessels that were included in the transaction will continue to operate out of Virginia. Wanchese Trawl & Supply also owned by Cooke will continue operating.