MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries declared summer flounder “viable” in its 2011 Stock Status Report released today.
Summer flounder had been listed as “recovering” since 2009, and according to the latest assessment by the National Marine Fisheries Service Northeast Science Center the stock is no longer overfished and overfishing is not occurring. Fishing mortality has steadily decreased and the stock has generally increased since the early 1990s.
HB 353 would have re-classified red drum, spotted seatrout and striped bass as gamefish, thus making them off limits to harvest and sale or bartering. In effect, netting of these fish to be sold for profit would have been banned.
However, the bill didn’t survive a June 9 deadline to “cross over” to the Senate for consideration, either because five Democrats made deals with the Republican majority for their budget approval votes or the Republican majority didn’t want to answer questions about a relatively small number of job losses in the commercial fishing industry should HB 353 become law.
In either case, McCormick and bi-partisan sponsors of HB 353 managed to morph the bill into an all-encompassing study of saltwater resources management.
One of HB 353’s sponsors told North Carolina Sportsman by opposing the game-fish status bill during this legislative session, commercial fishing interests “basically threw kindling on a smoldering fire.”
A quick look at the topics the committee will examine bears out that legislator’s words. Each section could be a nightmare for the state’s commercial fishing industry and the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission.
MOREHEAD CITY – The Columbia Field Office of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will close June 27, and it is not scheduled to reopen.
The office is slated for closure in all versions of the proposed state budget, and the division does not anticipate this line item will change once a final budget is approved.
MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. -- Marine biologists are collecting data on fishery management using earbones of fish. The aging lab at the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries dissects fish to see how the state's stocks are thriving.
Randy Gregory is a marine biologist at N.C Division of Marine Fisheries. He counts the rings of an otolith, the earbone of a fish. He said it's basically a record of the fish’s life.
Although a news release from the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries paints a rosy picture of saltwater harvests, a look at some of the details, especially those not included in the report, will alarm many observers.
NCDMF reported that commercial and recreational saltwater fishing harvests increased during 2010, to its highest since 2005. However, those numbers may reveal more about the efficiency of commercial gear and the popularity of recreational fishing than good management practices.
ATLANTIC BEACH – North Carolina commercial seafood harvests rose slightly, by 4 percent, in 2010 to the highest level since 2005.
The same was true for recreational harvests, which inched up 6 percent after a 15 percent decline in 2009.
“The increase is a surprise considering increased regulations, including many seasonal closures, imposed by the federal councils and the National Marine Fisheries Service, as well as restrictions from the sea turtle lawsuit settlement,” said N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Director Louis Daniel. “Additional increases in fuel and commodity prices might have been expected to actually cause the numbers to decline.”
Commercial fishermen brought in 72 million pounds of fish and shellfish, with a dockside value of $80 million in 2010, according to the division’s Commercial Trip Ticket Program. That was a 3 percent increase from the previous five-year landings average of 70 million pounds.
The increased harvest came with a 3 percent decrease in the number of commercial fishing trips. Commercial fishermen took 152,084 fishing trips in 2010.
Included in the commercial gains was an 8 percent increase in shellfish, shrimp and crab landings, bolstered by an 81 percent jump in oyster landings.
Obviously, no public official with financial interests in a wildlife population should be allowed to vote on harvests. That North Carolina has set up a governing body with appointed commissioners who have such ties is a travesty and needs to be changed.
There are two ways to get this changed — a merger of the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission and N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission or gamefish status for saltwater species. Hopefully, changes will be coming soon.
MOREHEAD CITY – Every coastal recreational fisherman should understand how to fish in an ethical manner. Every coastal recreational fisherman should know the latest size and bag limits and fishing seasons.
The Spring 2011 edition of Fish Eye News focuses on these matters with articles that show the most responsible way to catch-and-release a spotted seatrout and practice other ethical angling techniques. Other articles identify coastal recreational fishing regulations that have changed since last year and describe the various fisheries agencies and commissions that enact these regulations.
MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will close its Washington license sales office for an indefinite period beginning April 4.
MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is seeking input from the for-hire fishing industry about whether to restructure the current permit and license requirements, and if so, how to do so.
The division will hold three meetings to accept public comment on this issue at the following times and locations:
Last year, the General Assembly passed legislation, SL 2010-13, requiring that all Fisheries Management Plans (FMP) adopted by the Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) have at least a 50% chance of success. The first FMP to be governed by the new law was for the Spotted Sea Trout (Speckled Trout). However, members of the MFC decided that commercial harvest was more important than following directions from the legislature. The resulting outcome saw the MFC asking the Joint Legislative Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture to recommend legislation EXEMPTING Spotted Sea Trout from this law. House Bill 136 is the result of this request.
|PROTECT SPECKLED SEA TROUT||
|End overfishing for speckled sea trout within two years through sound management measures|
NC Camo Alert – House Bill 136 introduced to exempt Speckled Sea Trout from improved Fishery Management Plan requirements
House Bill 136 has been introduced into the NC General Assembly to exempt speckled sea trout from the Fishery Management Plan Improvement Act enacted in the 2010 session. This bill will single out speckled sea trout for exclusion from the provision passed last session that requires fishery management plans to include measures to ensure ending overfishing within two years of approval of the fishery management plan for any species of fish that is overfished. The law that was passed (SL 2010-13) is a strong and sorely needed improvement to the fishery management plan process. The law received full review by both Houses of the NC General Assembly and passed by large margins. The Governor signed the bill into law. No positive reason is advanced for now trying to exempt the first fish, the speckled sea trout, to come up for consideration under this new law.
Gov. Beverly Perdue's proposed 2011-2013 budget includes three items that could mean bad business for the bivalves.
The first would eliminate the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries' oyster sanctuary program, which was created to protect oyster beds from bottom-dragging devices and to help rebuild oyster populations.
The second item would reduce the division's shellfish rehabilitation program, including the popular volunteer oyster shell recycling program.
The last item proposes the elimination of the state's shellfish mapping program, which helps identify areas that need rehabilitation. Mapping is also used to help agencies make decisions on habitat alteration permit requests, dredge and fill initiatives, and construction.
Eliminates the state’s Oyster Sanctuary Program, including five positions. This will save about $1.5 million a year.
Reduces the shellfish rehabilitation program, including the staff of the Oyster Sanctuary Program and the volunteer oyster shell recycling program. This will save about $575,000 a year and cut four positions.
Eliminates shellfish mapping program, saving $562,000 a year and cutting 9 positions.
Eliminates four positions in the Division of Marine Fisheries, including one in Habitat Protection, one in the Speckled Trout Section, one in stock assessment and one in permitting and licenses. This will save $271,000 a year.
Under the proposed plan, the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries would feel impacts, including a reduction in the Marine Patrol operating budget, elimination of the Oyster Sanctuary Program, closing of its Columbia office, and the cut of two filled and two vacant positions within the division.
Anglers set to seek relief in General Assembly
In an appalling disregard for the indiscriminate killing of striped bass by the commercial trawl net fishermen, the North Carolina Marine fisheries Commission (NCMFC) voted to continue these wasteful practices. Following three tragic incidents where a massive number of ocean striped bass were killed in the North Carolina trawler fishery, recreational fishermen sent thousands of emails, phone calls and letters to the NC Division of Marine Fisheries and the NC Marine Fisheries Commission protesting the recent waste in this fishery. In response to these events and public outcry, the issue was placed on the MFC agenda for the Feb. 11, 2011 meeting.
MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission has instructed the director of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries to reopen the state’s ocean striped bass trawl fishery to allow the remaining quota to be caught.
Two powerful environmental groups are calling on state fisheries officials to prohibit commercial trawl boats from catching striped bass - also called rockfish - until a new management plan is put in place to curb wasteful practices.
The Southern Environmental Law Center and Defenders of Wildlife sent a joint letter Thursday to North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Director Louis Daniel and Marine Fisheries Commission Chairman Robert Bizzell. The letter requests that the division and commission take action to prevent the commercial sector from discarding thousands of dead fish in a single incident, as has been documented several times off the coast of the Outer Banks since mid-January.
Angler Advocacy Group Urges ASMFC To Address Wasteful Fishing Practices
February 10, 2011 - Two staggering fish kills by commercial trawlers fishing out of Oregon Inlet are just the tip of the iceberg as the state of North Carolina continues to promote fishing practices for Atlantic striped bass that are not only wasteful but filled with loopholes that encourage unreported landings.
Striped bass kills highlight need to end destructive fishing practices
PINE KNOLLS SHORES, NC - In response to a rash of massive striped bass kills along the coast, CCA North Carolina will request the NC Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) to eliminate trawling of any kind as a permissible fishing gear for striped bass. The incidents, photographed and videotaped by recreational anglers in the area, were the result of commercial trawling operations in state waters and have prompted outrage up and down the East Coast. CCA North Carolina will request decisive action at the MFC meeting in Pine Knolls, Feb. 10-11.
In a mistake that was entirely predictable, the state’s Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) has allowed the use of large trawl nets among large schools of striped bass. And, for the third time in less than three weeks, a massive striped bass kill has occurred. The latest example of “regulatory dead discards” was photographed from a helicopter off Oregon Inlet this week and was again evidenced by a long trail of dead striped bass in the vicinity of commercial trawlers. The latest kill was four miles long and a half-mile wide, and consisted of thousands of dead stripers, many of which were of the minimum legal size of 28 inches, that were dumped at sea after being snared and culled by commercial boats.
The most recent striped bass kill off of Oregon Inlet was another one caused by North Carolina's commercial trawl fishery. Hundreds, maybe thousands of fish were photographed from a helicopter being released from the nets after crews had boated their limit of 2,000 pounds.
For the second time in three weeks, reports of a large fish kill off the Outer Banks coastline are drawing attention to controversial commercial fishing practices and the regulations that govern the industry.
Commercial trawlers discarded thousands of dead striped bass into the ocean Thursday near the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, according to complaints logged with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries.
Perdue herself had argued that North Carolinians could be better served with fewer of the boards.
Even as she announced her decision, some government watchers were reviving a call to merge two of the more prominent state commissions in North Carolina — the Wildlife Resources Commission and the Marine Fisheries Commission.
Joe Albea, producer of UNC-TV's Carolina Outdoor Journal and a frequent critic of the Marine Fisheries Commission, cited cold-stunned speckled sea trout, dying in tidal waters overseen by both commissions, as an example of why the state needs a single commission and single agency overseeing fisheries.
“We need a single 10- or 12-member commission that puts the resource first,” Albea said.
MOREHEAD CITY – An overloaded fishing net prompted fishermen on a commercial trawler to release thousands of striped bass they caught Saturday off of Bodie Island.
Dr. Louis B. Daniel III, Director, Division of Marine Fisheries, hereby announces that effective 12:00 Noon, Friday, January 14, 2011, the following will apply to spotted seatrout:
I. HARVEST RESTRICTIONS
It is unlawful to possess spotted seatrout in coastal and joint fishing waters of North Carolina.
The director of the NC Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) says that although some speckled trout have been killed in the recent cold weather it looks like the fish kill is not widespread nor as deadly as the one last year.
Still, DMF Director Dr. Louis Daniel acknowledges he is struggling with the question of whether to close the commercial trout season to compensate for the loss, or if to close it when.
The N.C. General Assembly’s Joint Legislative Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture voted to recommend that speckled trout be exempt from a state law passed this summer requiring plans to rebuild an overfished stock within 10 years and to end its overfishing within two years of a plan.
MOREHEAD CITY – Fishermen will see a change in mechanical oyster harvest limits in the Pamlico Sound for the Thanksgiving holidays.
The daily trip limit will increase from 15 bushels to 20 bushels starting this Thursday and running this Friday and next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
MOREHEAD CITY – Southern Core Sound will reopen to large mesh gill net fishing one hour before sunset Wednesday.
The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is reopening these waters to determine if the large mesh gill net fishery can operate during the latter part of the fall season and avoid interactions with threatened and endangered sea turtles.
MOREHEAD CITY – One of the biggest challenges facing North Carolina fisheries management is balancing commercial and recreational fishing with the need to protect sea turtles.
The Fall 2010 edition of Fish Eye News focuses on several of these issues, with articles that explain the past, present and future of federal government’s strategy for sea turtle conservation and describe some of the research being conducted in our state.
MOREHEAD CITY – Individuals fishing in North Carolina’s coastal waters may be monitored by state and/or federal observers and are required to carry observers on their vessels if requested.
§ 113‑182.1. Fishery Management Plans.
(a) The Department shall prepare proposed Fishery Management Plans for adoption by the Marine Fisheries Commission for all commercially or recreationally significant species or fisheries that comprise State marine or estuarine resources. Proposed Fishery Management Plans shall be developed in accordance with the Priority List, Schedule, and guidance criteria established by the Marine Fisheries Commission under G.S. 143B‑289.52.
MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Commercial License Review Taskforce will meet at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Central District Office, 5285 Highway 70 West in Morehead City.
MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Marine Patrol recently wrapped up criminal cases against three fish house owners caught buying red drum without reporting the transaction.
Recent comments circulated by Mr. Dean Phillips to members of the N.C. General Assembly and others have many inaccuracies and omissions that make it appear that by opposing game fish status for spotted seatrout the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) has neglected its duty to preserve the fishery resource. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The pot of money to help fund projects ranging from new local fish-marketing initiatives and habitat studies to gear improvements and aquaculture research now stands at $300,000, down from $1 million just a few years ago.
Money from the latest cut, which saw the $600,000 in last year's program budget cut in half, is being used to fund a new sea turtle observer program.
About 70 fishermen around the state have been chosen to participate in a stimulus-funded project to build oyster reefs by coordinating with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.
They have spent the summer distributing more than 40,000 bushels of oyster shells up and down the coast, said Ted Wilgis, education coordinator for the N.C. Coastal Federation.
Nearly 2,000 bushels are coming to New Hanover County, and the 1-acre area will be closed off from harvesters for four years to allow the oysters to grow. Researchers from the University of North Carolina Wilmington will monitor the sites until they are reopened.
Dunn fishes year round, gillnetting for spanish mackerel, bluefish, and other fish, and trolling for king mackerel. Growing up in a military family, Dunn lived in many places before striking out on his own and making Buxton his home in the 1970s.
Across town, Dal Burrus gillnets or seines on the weeks he isn’t working as an engineer on a tugboat towing barges loaded with sugar or other commodities. He sells his catch to Avon Seafood.
Burrus was just 14 years old when he started haul-seining with his father and other island fishermen. His father, like many Outer Banks watermen and like his son, wove fishing into a life filled with other economic endeavors.
This week a state level taskforce will begin to discuss commercial fishing license issues that could impact fishermen with very different fishing habits and histories, like Dunn and Burrus.
The panel will undertake the first comprehensive review of commercial fishing licenses since an exhaustive study resulted in the 1997 Fisheries Reform Act.
MOREHEAD CITY – A N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Commercial License Review Taskforce will meet at 3 p.m. Monday at the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Central District Office, 5285 Highway 70 West in Morehead City.
The Marine Fisheries Commission has asked the taskforce to consider more narrowly defining the requirements to obtain a commercial fishing license, along with other issues surrounding the commercial licensing process.
MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ 2010 Stock Status report shows saltwater fish populations in North Carolina are stable and, in many cases, improving.
Sneads Ferry gill net fisherman Timmy Edens already has net he can’t use sitting in his backyard, and he now wonders whether a fisheries bill being considered in Raleigh will mean a fee on the net he does put to use.
A bill being considered would give the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission authority to establish permits, and associated fees, for gear used in a fishery for which observer coverage is required by state or federal law. Fisheries officials said the option of establishing a fee to help pay for observers is a backup plan to ensure funding is available for the observers who are necessary to keep a fishery open.
MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will allow fishermen to use a top line to connect multiple 100-yard gill net sets.
MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will allow gill net fishermen to modify their old flounder nets to meet current regulations for mesh depth.
HB 1710 - Fisheries Management Plan Supplements - will be considered by the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday, June 8, 2010, 12:00 noon, room 643 Legislative Office Building.
RALEIGH — Bills advancing various fisheries efforts, including one which would help implement a recent lawsuit settlement, won the approval of the House Marine Resources and Aquaculture Committee on Wednesday.
One of the bills would allow the Division of Marine Fisheries to set up fees to help pay for observers to go out on boats and monitor actions taken by some fishermen. The lawsuit settlement dealt with gill nets and the protection of sea turtles along the North Carolina coast.
MOREHEAD CITY – North Carolina’s 2009 commercial finfish harvest was up by 17 percent over the previous year, but decreased harvest in shrimp and crabs dropped commercial dockside seafood sales by 4 percent in 2009, according to an annual landings report produced by the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.
North Carolina’s top fisheries official seemed to signal a new era of environmental awareness in the state this week, as he explained a settlement on the lawsuit over sea turtle and gill net interactions and told fishermen to be prepared to face further restrictions in NC due to the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
“Can you imagine the Pamlico Sound as a no wake zone to protect sea turtles?” Dr. Louis Daniel, director of the NC Division of Marine Fisheries asked at one point in a press conference, in an attempt to illustrate the seriousness of the state’s ongoing efforts to comply with the ESA.