May 26, 2016
MFC adopts stricter blue crab regulations
The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission adopted stricter blue crab regulations at its meeting last week.
According to a news release from the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries,
the measures are meant to improve the condition of the state’s blue
Commercial and recreational crabbers should expect most of the regulations to take effect in early June.
The commission voted to:
Division of Marine Fisheries will issue proclamations to implement the
regulatory changes. All of the regulatory changes except the escape
ring requirement will take effect June 6 The escape ring requirement
will not take effect until Jan. 15, 2017 to allow fishermen to make
this gear modification during an annual crab pot closure.
management action was required under Amendment 2 to the N.C. Blue Crab
Fishery Management Plan, adopted by the commission in November 2013.
The plan uses an adaptive management framework that requires annual
evaluation of a Blue Crab Traffic Light, which consists of three
biological indicators. If the indicators meet pre-determined
thresholds, management changes are required. The annual evaluation this
year found that a management threshold was exceeded.
one additional escape ring (two are currently required) in crab pots,
and one of the three rings must be located within one full mesh of the
corner of the pot and within one full mesh of the bottom of the
apron/stairs (divider) of the upper chamber of the pot.
the harvest of v-apron immature female hard crabs, excluding peeler
crabs, and include v-apron immature female hard crabs in the culling
tolerance. The tolerance currently includes only sub-legal male and
immature female hard crabs.
harvest of dark sponge crabs (brown and black) from April 1-April 30
each year and include dark sponge crabs in the culling tolerance.
- Lower the culling tolerance from 10 percent to 5 percent for all crabs, except mature females.
crab harvest with dredges, except incidental to lawful oyster dredging
as outlined in North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission Rule 15A NCAC
- In other business, the commission:
- Approved draft amendments to the Oyster and Hard Clam Fishery Management Plans for departmental and legislative review.
division staff to meet with Wildlife Resources Commission staff, and
bring joint recommendations to the August meeting to address problems
with striped bass reproduction in the Neuse and Tar rivers; to expedite
analysis of fin clip data on samples the division currently has; and to
provide a method of determining if the native strain of striped bass
still exists in the Neuse and Tar rivers.
- Requested that the Conservation Fund Committee meet within 30 days to consider funding DNA testing of striped bass fin clips.
- Requested that the division include crab pots in its blue crab sampling gear.
that the division include various gears used by commercial fishermen in
various areas in stock assessment sampling, and, when possible, work
with commercial and recreational fishermen in the sampling process.
that the commission chair send letters and emails to the Mid-Atlantic
Fishery Management Council chair and members expressing the
commission’s support for including little tunny (false albacore) and
Atlantic bonito in the list of Eco-system Component Species; and
express the commission’s support for Alternative 2B of the Unmanaged
Forage Omnibus Amendment to designate unmanaged forage species as
Eco-system Component Species, and implement an incidental possession
limit with a 1,700 pounds total cap and a 1,500 cap on individual