MFC Meeting Recap
The NC Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) met last week in New Bern. During this meeting, a lot of interesting conversations were had and plenty of motions were voted on. I am going to recap some of the bigger takeaways.
If anyone wants to review the meeting (or any particular sections), here are the links for each day:
*in the video description, the agenda is broken up which allows you to advance to a specific section
Water Quality Resolution
The MFC formally adopted a resolution advocating for increased funding for and expansion of cost-share programs that assist landowners in managing and reducing the amount of nutrient runoff in our state.
Striped Mullet Supplement
Striped Mullet Supplement A was not passed.
Two motions were made with different closure dates and both were voted down by the commission. A third motion was made to vote down Supplement A and continue with the fisheries management plan (FMP) process. The rational was to continue with standard operating procedure because an emergency supplement was not necessary at this time for the Striped Mullet stock.
The motion to vote down Supplement A resulted in a 5-4 vote after much discussion. But because the option was not a DMF (NC Division of Marine Fisheries) recommendation, the vote required a super majority (of 6 votes) to pass. Therefore, this motion also failed.
According to legal counsel, the matter is still before the Commission and Chairman Bizzell assured that Supplement A would again be on the agenda at the next MFC meeting in May.
Spotted Seatrout Fishery Overview
DMF staff gave a more detailed overview of the Spotted Seatrout (Speckled Trout) stock assessment. This stock assessment will be used to develop management for the Speckled Trout FMP. The stock assessment indicates that the speckle trout stock is experiencing overfishing and the state is legally required to reduce total removals by 14.6% to 39.6%.
DMF will be holding 4 public in person scoping sessions March 14th, 16th, 21st, and 23rd to discuss how to setup future management for Speckled Trout. Only the March 14th meeting with be held online and in person.
This is the stage of the process where we must let staff know how WE want to see this fishery managed. Commercial fishermen have reduced harvest enough in this fishery, we do not need any more cuts to achieve reductions for an unaccountable, ever growing recreational trout fishery.
We will send out reminders of all of these upcoming scoping meetings, but here is a link:
False Albacore (Little Tunny)
DMF staff presented an information paper on False Albacore to the MFC. The presentation from DMF staff looked at commercial and recreational landings/release data and life history information on this currently unmanaged stock. DMF clearly stated that due to the small proportion of coastwise landings in NC and the average size of fish landed is well over sexual maturity that management at this time was not needed.
Even after this clear recommendation from DMF that management was unnecessary Commissioner Roller decided to put a motion for management up anyway.
And surprise, surprise Commissioner Roller’s motion was to cap the commercial fishery and set a low commercial trip limit. The only suggestion he had for the recreational sector was a liberal bag limit 5 times higher than the average fish currently kept and no recreational cap harvest! Goes without saying, no mention or concern of recreational dead discards. Even Director Rawls said “this is really, to me, not managing the fishery per say, but trying to cap the fishery”.
Fortunately, this motion went nowhere and a motion made “to ask staff to come forward with rulemaking language with management options to allow for growth at various percentage points” was passed unanimously.
There were many more interesting discussions throughout this meeting that definitely have our attention and as you can see, there are plenty of issues that require us to continue to speak out and stay informed. If you did not listen to this meeting live, I strongly encourage you to go back and rewatch as much as you can. As always, we are here for any questions or concerns and I’m sure we will be circling back around in more detail on these issues at hand in future updates.