The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission moved forward with southern flounder and sheepshead management at its meeting in Morehead City last week.
The commission chose six potential management proposals to include in a draft supplement to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan that the commission will put out for public review.
The six options range in impacts to different fisheries and gears and will affect both commercial and recreational fisheries. They can be found on the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries website at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/may-2015-briefing-book.
The commission decided to hold a public comment period from June 10 to July 10 and include a public meeting as well. Details of the comment period, with the location, date and times of the meeting, will be announced later.
The commission also chose the following management measures for sheepshead:
10-inch fork length minimum size limit (all commercial and recreational fisheries)
10-fish bag limit (recreational)
10-fish per person per day limit or per trip limit if multi-day trip (commercial spears and gigs)
300-pound trip limit (all other commercial gears, except pound nets)
Sheepshead is a highly sought recreational fish and is caught in a variety of commercial fisheries. Until 2012, sheepshead was managed under the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council Snapper-Grouper Fishery Management Plan, and was included in a 20-fish snapper-grouper recreational bag limit aggregate. When sheepshead was removed from the South Atlantic plan, management of the fishery was left up to the state.
The new sheepshead regulations will be implemented by a proclamation later this week, and be effective June 1.
In other business, the commission voted to:
Review the N.C. Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan in 2017 instead of this year, aligning the review with a statutorily required five-year review schedule. The decision followed a presentation on the latest stock assessment that showed that the stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring.
Fund up to $10,000 from the Marine Fisheries Commission Conservation Fund for the James Francesconi Memorial Artificial Reef project
Begin the rulemaking process this summer to adopt an amendment to the N.C. Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan later this year.
Proceed with a review of the N.C. Kingfish Fishery Management Plan as an information update, which means no management changes are proposed.
Audio of the meeting can be found online at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/may-2015-briefing-book. For more information, contact Nancy Fish in the Marine Fisheries Commission Office at 252-808-8021 or [email protected]