September 19, 2017

New oyster regulations lower commercial
trip limit for some license holders

New oyster harvest regulations going into effect this year lower the daily commercial trip limit for Shellfish License holders.

Harvest of oysters by hand methods from public water bottom will open at sunrise Oct. 15. Those who hold appropriate commercial fishing licenses may harvest oysters between sunrise and sunset, Monday through Friday each week.

For those fishing under a commercial Shellfish License, the harvest limit will be reduced to two bushels per person, with a maximum of four bushels per vessel. The daily hand harvest limits for Standard Commercial Fishing License holders will remain unchanged, unless they are part of a combined commercial operation with the Shellfish License holder.

If a Shellfish License holder is part of a combined commercial operation with a Standard Commercial Fishing License holder, the combined fishing operation will be limited to seven bushels per day.

The Marine Fisheries Commission adopted the changes in February as part of Amendment 4 to the Oyster Fishery Management Plan.

Possession limits for those who hold a standard commercial fishing license with a shellfish endorsement differ between water bodies. Fishermen should see Proclamation SF-4-2017 for specific regulations.

No license is required for hand harvest of oysters for personal consumption, but the oysters may not be sold without a commercial license. Recreational hand harvest is allowed sunrise to sunset seven days a week. The harvest limit is one bushel of oysters per person per day or two bushels per vessel per day if more than one person is on a boat.

The minimum size limit is 3-inches shell length.

Some waters may temporarily close to shellfish harvesting due to high bacteria levels associated with rainfall and stormwater runoff. Fishermen should check here for shellfish closures. Fishermen should continue to frequently check for shellfish closures throughout the year, particularly after heavy rains. They may also call the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries at 252-726-7021 or 1-800-682-2632 to check for closures.

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