Weekly Update: March 1, 2019

FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Shrimp Petition Update
The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) members were informed at their February business meeting that no further actions can be taken on the North Carolina Wildlife Federations (NCWF) petition for rulemaking better known as the “shrimp petition”. The Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM) has reviewed the fiscal note of the proposed changes to the shrimp rules, which were submitted to the MFC by the NCWF. OSBM determined that sufficient funds are not available to implement the proposed changes without undue detriment to the DMF’s existing activities. While the petition itself is dead several MFC members have made it very clear that they would like to see the measures recommended in the petition adopted in the amendment to the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan which is currently underway.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

The only bill introduced this week that is close to being fish-related is H-169, which is an Act to adopt the Loggerhead Sea Turtle as the official saltwater reptile of the State of North Carolina.
The draft shellfish bill is still being worked on and has not been released yet for review

FISHERIES RELATED

Marine Fisheries Commission adopts no-possession limit for striped bass in some internal coastal waters

MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission has adopted a no-possession limit for striped bass in internal waters in the central and southern coastal areas of the state.

The management measure, once implemented, will apply to both commercial and recreational fishing in in the Central Southern Management Area, which encompasses all internal waters from just south of Oregon Inlet to the South Carolina line. The waters that will be impacted include, but are not limited to, the Pamlico and Core sounds and the Tar, Pamlico, Pungo, Bay, Neuse and White Oak rivers and their tributaries.

The management change will not impact striped bass fishing in the Atlantic Ocean, Albemarle Sound Management Area, Roanoke River Management Area, and inland waters under the jurisdiction of the N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission. The change also will not impact the Cape Fear River and its tributaries, where a no-possession rule already exists.

The management measure will still allow recreational catch-and-release of striped bass in the impacted areas.

The no-possession limit, essentially a year-round closed season, was adopted through Supplement A to Amendment 1 to the N. C. Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan, and it is meant to be a temporary restriction to protect possible naturally-spawned year classes of striped bass until Amendment 2 to the N. C. Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan is adopted. Amendment 2 could continue the no-possession provision or recommend other management actions.

Research has shown that striped bass in the Central Southern Management Area are not a self-sustaining population and that fishermen are mainly catching hatchery-raised fish; however, data suggest there have been two recent naturally-spawned year classes. The no-possession management measure will offer additional protection for those non-hatchery fish and protect larger females which could increase natural spawning stock biomass.

The commission also asked the director of the Division of Marine Fisheries to issue a proclamation that restricts the use of gill nets that interact with striped bass upstream of the ferry lines in the rivers and requires attendance of gill nets that interact with striped bass upstream of the tie-down lines. Division Director Steve Murphey said he is reviewing this request.

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