August 24, 2018

Last Week’s MFC Meeting Overview from the
North Carolina Fisheries Association

The following is from the North Carolina Fisheries Association’s (NCFA) weekly news and updates. Learn more about the NCFA at

At last week’s Marine Fisheries Commission meeting, several actions were taken. At the public comment period, NCFA’s Chairman Brent Fulcher and Executive Director Glenn Skinner both addressed the Commission.

Fulcher welcomed the new commissioners and said he looked forward to working with them all. He spoke of the continuing success of the shrimp bycatch reduction efforts and noted that North Carolina leads the country in bycatch reduction in that fishery. He also reminded the commissioners that NCFA had suggested to DMF in the past that they institute a call in requirement for those involved in the gillnet fishery that require observers. He said in certain federal fisheries that require observers, it’s mandated that the boats call in to let them know where they intend to fish and when they plan to leave the dock. He said it’s a fairer system because the same few fishermen aren’t always the ones taking out observers. Fulcher also made the point that the advisory system seems to work better at the federal level and cited the frustration that many advisors have with the North Carolina process because their input is diminished or ignored when it gets to the Commission.

Skinner also welcomed the new commissioners and reiterated what he wrote in an email to all Commissioners prior to the meeting that they should not take any action on controversial issues due to the fact that there are two vacancies on the Commission as a result of Sammy Corbett and Alison Willis resigning earlier in the week.

From the Commission:

On Thursday, August 17, the MFC voted to begin development of Amendment 2 to the North Carolina Shrimp Fishery Management Plan.

Amendment 2 to the Shrimp Plan will include the following general focus areas:

  • Continue minimizing waste and enhance economic value of the shrimp resource by promoting more efficient harvesting practices.
  • Further reduce mortality of non-target species of finfish and crustaceans and protected, threatened and endangered species.
  • Promote the protection, restoration and enhancement of habitats and environmental quality.
  • Encourage research and education to improve the understanding of the overall cumulative impacts of shrimp trawl bycatch on fish population dynamics.

State law requires the Division of Marine Fisheries to review fishery management plans every five years. Amendment 1 to the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan was adopted in 2015, and scheduled for review in 2020.

The decision to move forward the Shrimp Plan review schedule means the Division of Marine Fisheries will be developing four fishery management plans this fiscal year. Three of them -- the Blue Crab, Southern Flounder, and Shrimp plans -- are for top state fisheries. The division is also developing an amendment to the Estuarine Striped Bass Plan jointly with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

In other business, the commission:

  • Voted to continue the current management measures for striped mullet, as recommended by the division. Amendment 1 to the N.C. Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan requires the division to initiate further analysis of the striped mullet data if commercial landings fall below 1.13 million pounds or above 2.76 million pounds in any given year. In 2016, commercial landings fell, triggering the analysis. A 2018 update of the state’s 2013 striped mullet stock assessment found that overfishing is not occurring; however, it cannot be determined if the stock is overfished.
  • Elected Chuck Laughridge as vice chairman.
  • Set the 2018-2019 Standard Commercial Fishing License Eligibility Pool cap at 500.
  • Approved the goal and objectives for Amendment 3 to the Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan.
  • Agreed to write a letter to U.S. Coast Guard stating concern about the collision of two trawlers in North Carolina waters and asking the Coast Guard to be more vigilant in ensuring such vessels are following regulations regarding safety equipment.

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