November 21, 2016


MFC chairman to allow public comment on shrimp trawling petition

The chairman of the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission said he intends to allow public comment on a petition for rulemaking calling for habitat protections that, if adopted, would impact shrimp trawl fishing in most North Carolina waters.

The petition was submitted Nov. 2 by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation, and the commission has 120 days from that date to grant or deny the request.

Chairman Sammy Corbett outlined the petition review procedure at the commission’s business meeting last week.

First, the petition must be deemed complete. Under state law, a person may petition any agency or commission to adopt or change a rule by submitting a written rulemaking petition that contains the proposed text of the requested rule change and a statement of the effect of the requested rule change. Commission rules require additional information.

If the petition is deemed complete, Corbett said he intends to take public comment through the commission’s advisory committees, possibly at a joint advisory committee meeting similar to one held in 2013 on a similar petition.

The commission will then discuss and vote on the petition at its February meeting.

The petition asks the commission to designate all coastal fishing waters (including the ocean out to three miles) not otherwise designated as nursery areas as special secondary nursery areas, establish clear criteria for the opening of shrimp season, and define the type of gear and how and when gear may be used in special secondary nursery areas during shrimp season.

Specific requests of the petition include limiting shrimp trawling to three days a week in the daytime only, limiting the total trawl head rope to 90 feet, limiting tow times to 45 minutes, and opening the Pamlico Sound shrimp season based on a count of 60 shrimp per pound, heads on.

In other business, the commission voted to:

  • Send a letter from the full commission endorsing changes in the criteria for receiving a Standard Commercial Fishing License in North Carolina, which is the main license required for a fisherman to commercial fish and sell his catch. Recommended changes include limiting this license to full-time commercial fishermen and creating part-time and heritage commercial fishing licenses for other purposes.
  • Forward the names of Dewey Hemilright, Chris Hickman, Jeff Oden and Brent Fulcher to the Governor’s office for consideration for nominees to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council obligatory seat.
  • Authorize the issuance of a proclamation to prohibit gill nets within 200 feet of a specific dock in the Martin’s Point area of Currituck Sound to address a user conflict. The commission also authorized further proclamations prohibiting gill nets within 200 feet of docks in a 2 -mile area of southern Currituck Sound from Martins Point to Wright Memorial Bridge should other user conflicts occur.

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