It seems like the work that people are doing here is starting to make a difference in North Carolina. Yesterday the Director of Marine Fisheries issued a proclamation. He cut the amount of nets that the guys can use by a third. This is going to make a real difference and it won’t take very long either. In some of the areas I fish I have seen a real rebound in the numbers of fish from just a month ago since the guy that works those waters has been off the water due to issues with his motor. The fish will rebound if they are given a chance. Kudos to Dr. Daniel for making this proclamation. He will get a lot of ugly response from the commercial industry. Here is the text of the proclamation in it’s entirety:
MOREHEAD CITY – N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Director Louis Daniel on Monday will implement stricter regulations on flounder gill net fishing in Core Sound, Back Sound and waters around Hammocks Beach State Park.
The action is being taken in an effort to avoid illegal takes of sea turtles that could lead to a statewide federal closure of the flounder gill net fishery and/or legal prosecution under the Endangered Species Act.
“It is unfortunate, but not unexpected, that the potential for interactions increases as sea turtle populations recover,” Daniel said. “By implementing these new measures, the state is trying to maintain protections for threatened and endangered sea turtles while continuing a traditional flounder fishery.”
Daniel issued a proclamation today that reduces the amount of gill net fishermen can use from a total 3,000 yards per operation to 1,000 yards per operation. The proclamation also eliminates net tie downs and continuous lines of net. Each gill net set must be no longer than 200 yards, and there must be at least 25 yards between sets. Nets can be no deeper than 15 meshes.
The new regulations pertain to waters in Carteret and Onslow counties from the mouth of the Wainwright Channel in Core Sound to the Atlantic Beach Bridge, including the North and Newport rivers and from the Emerald Isle Bridge to just west of the Hammocks Beach ferry channel, not including the White Oak River and Queens Creek.
A letter from National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Regional Administrator Roy Crabtree described high levels of illegal sea turtle takes in the Core Sound flounder gill net fishery. Last month, the NMFS began a new six-month observer program of the Core Sound flounder gill net fishery that observed five fishing trips from June 17 to June 25. Sea turtle takes were observed in four of the trips. Eleven sea turtle takes were observed, including six green, three Kemp’s ridley and two loggerhead.
In the letter, Crabtree stressed the importance of taking immediate action to address these illegal takes, and he suggested the state evaluate other areas where inshore gill net fisheries may be interacting with sea turtles.
Interactions have been reported between sea turtles in the flounder gill net fisheries in Back Sound and in the Hammocks Beach State Park area. No such interactions have been reported in Bogue Sound. South of Queens Creek, current regulations limit potential interactions.
DMF is working closely with NMFS to consider future alternatives. These new regulations will remain in effect through the end of August but may be extended or strengthened as NMFS observations continue.
Daniel will be available to answer questions from the news media by conference call from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Reporters may call Kelly Odom in the DMF Public Affairs Office at (252) 808-8028 for information on dial-in access.