fishermen should expect to see a reduced cobia bag limit starting
Saturday, Feb. 27, and a season closure this summer.
The Marine Fisheries Commission voted at its meeting last week to lower
the cobia daily recreational bag limit to one fish per person. The
current recreational bag limit for cobia is two fish per person.
The commission's vote is intended to extend the recreational cobia
season by a few days this summer and to keep the recreational harvest
below the federal annual catch limit this year, in an effort to avoid a
closure next summer.
Recreational fishermen exceeded the annual catch limit of 630,000
pounds for cobia in 2015. The preliminary estimate of harvest for 2015
is 1.54 million pounds. Under the South Atlantic Fishery Management
Council's accountability measures, when the annual catch limit is
exceeded in one year, the length of the following year’s season must be
reduced to ensure that the recreational harvest does not exceed that
year’s annual catch limit.
N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries staff has informed the National
Marine Fisheries Service staff about the action the commission took.
The National Marine Fisheries Service is responsible for determining
the length of the cobia season and has agreed to consider the reduced
bag limit in calculating the length of the season closure.
For more information on the new cobia size limit, see Proclamation FF-09-2016 at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamations.
The commission also proposed lowering the daily harvest limit of
oysters for those fishing under a commercial shellfish license. The
proposal would lower the daily harvest limit statewide to two bushels
per person, with a maximum of four bushels per vessel. The proposed
changes would not apply to oyster leases or to those who hold standard
commercial fishing licenses.
The commission made the proposal as part of a draft amendment to the
Oyster Fishery Management Plan and postponed preliminary approval of
the plan to allow public comment, which be accepted at regional
advisory committee meetings in April.
In other business, the commission voted to:
- Nominate Joseph Andrew High and Randy McKinley for the obligatory seat on the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
the 2015 Coastal Habitat Protection Plan and source document to send to
the secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality and to the
N.C. General Assembly for approval.
with a declaratory ruling to allow American Eel Farm to harvest,
possess and sell undersized eel in North Carolina for grow out under
the North Carolina Aquaculture Plan for American Eel.
a sub-committee consisting of at least four commissioners to discuss
the issues associated with defining commercial fishermen and report its
findings to the full commission in August.
authority to the commission’s Commercial Fishing Resource Fund
Committee to develop and implement a memorandum of understanding with
the North Carolina Commercial Fishing Resource Fund Funding Committee
that sets procedures for agreeing to and authorizing disbursements from