The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will resume onboard observations of estuarine gill net fisheries beginning May 1. Onboard observations will be the primary method with limited use of alternative platform observations primarily conducted by Marine Patrol officers.
Division staff have been conducting alternate platform observations of estuarine gill net fisheries using division-owned boats since June 2020 in response to potential risks associated with COVID-19. The decision to resume onboard observations as the primary observation method is based on improved COVID-19 indicators. Under Executive Order 224 issued by Governor Roy Cooper for all cabinet agency employees, division staff are either fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or provide proof of weekly negative COVID-19 test results
Fishermen are reminded that an Estuarine Gill Net Permit (EGNP) is required to use anchored gill nets (large-mesh or small-mesh) in estuarine waters (commercially or recreationally), and one of the conditions of the EGNP is to allow division staff to observe gill net operations. Another condition of the EGNP is that fishermen must not avoid or mislead observers, which includes but is not limited to failing to return phone calls, failing to notify the division of a phone number change within 14 calendar days of such change, and providing incorrect information on fishing activity. Refusing to abide by permit conditions will result in suspension or revocation of the permit.
The EGNP is a critical step in meeting the requirements of the division’s sea turtle and Atlantic sturgeon Incidental Take Permits issued by NOAA Fisheries under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act.
Fishermen convicted of using anchored gill nets in internal coastal waters without holding an EGNP could be subject to a Class A1 misdemeanor.
The EGNP is available for free from the Division of Marine Fisheries. Fishermen can download an application here. Completed applications may be emailed to License@ncdenr.gov or mailed to the Division of Marine Fishermen, License Office, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City 28557.
Fishermen also may submit completed applications in drop boxes provided at the following division offices:
3441 Arendell St.
Phone: 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632
|Manteo Field Office
1021 Driftwood Dr.
Phone 252-473-5734 or 800-405-7774
|Pamlico District Office
943 Washington Square Mall, Highway 17
Phone: 252-946-6481 or 800-338-7804
|Southern District Office
127 Cardinal Drive Extension
Phone: 910-796-7215 or 800-248-4536
For more information about the Observer Program and observer coverage, contact the Protected Resources Program supervisor Barbie Byrd (phone: 252-808-8088; email: Barbie.Byrd@ncdenr.gov) or the Coastal Programs Manager, Casey Knight (phone: 252-808-8094; email: Casey.Knight@ncdenr.gov).