| May 22, 2008
MFC advisory panel weighs in on bloodworms and cinderblocks
By SUSAN WEST
An advisory panel to the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission
voted earlier this month to support a permitting requirement for all
types of live bait, other than bloodworms, imported into the state.
Under the permit, suppliers would need to have live bait shipments from
other states or other countries tested and certified as disease-free.
“In this day and age, with international overnight shipping, we
have to be more vigilant about the spread of disease and
parasites,” said Mike Marshall with the North Carolina Division
of Marine Fisheries (DMF).
The Northeast Advisory Committee, meeting at Roanoke Island Festival
Park, agreed that eels and most other live baits should be tested, but
recommended that bloodworms be exempt from the requirement while
research into diseases carried by bloodworms is conducted.
Committee members said the short “shelf-life” of bloodworms was a concern.
“The time it would take for testing would kill bloodworms before
the suppliers got them to us,” said Frank Folb, owner of a retail
tackle and bait shop in Avon.
Bloodworms account for 54 percent of all live bait sales in the state. Most imported bloodworms come from Maine or Canada.
The advisory committee approved a requirement for bait suppliers to
replace the seaweed and sediment used as packing material in
out-of-state bloodworm shipments with either sterile or native material.
Marshall said a seaweed called dead-man’s fingers, green crabs,
and mud snails were all introduced into California when packing
materials for bloodworms from Maine were discarded in California waters.
DMF biologist Katy West briefed the committee Thursday on gill net
operators using bottom-disturbing equipment in primary nursery areas,
another issue under review by the state Marine Fisheries Commission.
Primary nursery areas (PNAs) are important forage and refuge areas for
very young fish. Bottom-disturbing fishing gear, such as trawls,
long haul seines, and the mechanical harvest of shellfish, are
prohibited in PNAs, but gill nets, hook-and-line, hand rakes and tongs
West said DMF received complaints last November that some gill netters
were dragging cinderblocks along the bottom of the Neuse River to make
fish move and swim into their nets.
Additional information from marine patrol officers indicated that the
practice is most prevalent in the southern region of the coast, where
bodies of water are narrow and where 44 percent of the waters are
classified as PNAs.
West said fishermen turned to dragging blocks or other weights across
the bottom, abandoning the practice of banging on the side of boats or
using other loud noises to make fish move when waterfront homeowners
began to complain about the noise.
She said the impact on PNA ecology and the impact on juvenile fish is
unknown, but that stirring the sediment raises toxins and nutrients
from the bottom and reduces oxygen levels.
An advisory committee majority agreed that the DMF director should
address the issue by proclamation authority while the Coastal Habitat
Protection Plan is updated.
The state Marine Fisheries Commission will take up the gill net issue and the live bait permit requirement later this year.