March 12, 2008

Fisheries advisory committee says no to keeping big, red drum


Villagers on the Outer Banks shouldn’t expect to see that traditional favorite, old drum stew, on their dining room tables anytime soon.

A fisheries advisory committee recommended Thursday, March 6, that the state retain the no-harvest provision for red drum longer than 27 inches that went into effect in 1998.  

That recommendation was one of several made by the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission Northeast Regional Advisory Committee following a presentation by Lee Paramore, red drum biologist with the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), and public comments at the Hatteras Village Civic Center.

DMF is reviewing and updating the 2001 red drum fishery management plan, and has recommended that the prohibition on large drum continue.

During the public comment period, Hatteras resident Bill Foster asked the state to consider creating a red drum heritage fishery.  

Foster asked that residents of villages from Ocracoke to Corolla be permitted to harvest one large drum on the condition that they turn the carcass over to the state for research.

“The limited fishery would serve two purposes.  Not only would Outer Banks families be able to resume sharing Hatteras-style drum, the dish that was prepared to commemorate special occasions, but it would provide research data about the large fish,” Foster said.  

The advisory committee supported increasing the daily trip limit for commercial fishermen from seven to 10 fish, while maintaining other measures to ensure that drum aren’t targeted by commercial fishermen and are harvested only as bycatch in other fisheries.

“I do appreciate the state thinking about giving me 10 fish. I’m excited about that and that’s really very sad,” said David Gaskins of Buxton who told the committee he saw lots of drum in Pamlico Sound.

The committee also endorsed increasing the attendance requirement for small mesh gill nets, nets with stretched mesh smaller than five inches, in some areas, and requiring some unattended large mesh nets to be set parallel to the shoreline.

Frisco fisherman Bill Van Druten told the committee that the attendance requirement for small mesh gill nets would have a huge impact on his fall sea mullet fishery.

“I’m not fishing in grass flats.  I fish in deeper water where I have yet to put a single red drum to the mark,” said Van Druten.

Committee member Fran Folb of Buxton motioned that the state review the area off Rollinson Channel in Pamlico Sound described by Van Druten for exemption to the attendance requirement, and the committee agreed.  

The committee also recommended a size limit on “j hooks” used by recreational anglers in Pamlico Sound in July, August, and September.

After a series of additional advisory committee and public meetings wrap up in early April, the Marine Fisheries Commission will review and approve a final draft fishery management plan.


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