The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission voted Thursday to approve the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan 2021 Amendment for public comment and advisory committee review. The overarching goal of the CHPP is long-term enhancement of coastal fisheries through habitat protection and enhancement efforts. The 2021 Amendment contains a suite of recommendations focused on achieving this goal.
The Coastal Habitat Protection Plan is a Department of Environmental Quality plan and will now be presented to the Coastal Resources Commission and the Environmental Management Commission during their September meetings.
In another matter, the commission decided not to immediately initiate modifications to small mesh gill net rules but instead to address gill net issues as they come up through the fishery management plan process.
The commission considered a suite of potential management options for the small mesh gill net fishery that focused on reducing regulatory complexity, potential bycatch, and user conflict. The Division of Marine Fisheries developed the proposals at the direction of the commission.Division Director Kathy Rawls assured the commission that the division already does and will continue to address gill net issues through the fishery management plan process.
In other business, the commission voted to:
- Ask the division to develop an issue paper to assess needed changes the mutilated finfish rule (15A NCAC 03M .0101).
- Set the cap on the number of licenses in the Standard Commercial Fishing License Eligibility Pool for fiscal year 2021-2022 at 500.
- Approve the five-year Fishery Management Plan schedule for review and final approval by the secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality.
- Approve notice of text to begin the process of readoption, repeal, adoption, and amendment of a slate of rules under a mandatory periodic review schedule (G.S. 150B-21.3A).
Re-elect Doug Cross as commission vice-chairman.