Three new members of the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission members took the oath of office and participated in their first meeting this week.
Governor Roy Cooper recently announced three new appointments to the commission: Donald Huggins, Doug Rader, and Ana Shellem. Huggins fills an at-large seat, Rader fills the scientist seat, and Shellem fills a commercial fisherman seat.
In business, the Commission tabled further action on the Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan Amendment 2 until its November business meeting.
The action followed lengthy discussion that primarily focused on gill net prohibitions in the upper Neuse and Pamlico river systems. After two failed votes to adopt the amendment: one with the gill net prohibition, and one without the gill net prohibition, the Commission determined more consideration was needed before final adoption of the plan was considered.
Amendment 2 was jointly developed by the Division of Marine Fisheries and Wildlife Resources Commission and contains management measures to address sustainable harvest in the Albemarle Sound and Roanoke River management areas and the Tar-Pamlico, Neuse, and Cape Fear rivers.
Adaptive management was implemented earlier this year based on the current stock assessment which indicated the Albemarle-Roanoke Striped Bass stock is overfished and overfishing was occurring. The Division is currently updating that assessment to determine if further management measures are necessary for the conservation of the stock.
Estuarine striped bass management will continue as prescribed by Amendment 1, including the temporary management measures related to possession limits and the use of large mesh gill nets in the upper Neuse and Pamlico river systems, until Amendment 2 is adopted.
In other business, the Commission:
- Endorsed sending a letter to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council in support of maintaining the management measures under the Dolphin Wahoo Fishery Management Plan Amendment 10, as it believes that the proposed management measures under the Dolphin Wahoo Regulatory Amendment 3 are inequitable to North Carolina. Additionally, the letter will state that the Commission supports further assessment of the impacts of climate and other factors on dolphin stocks.
- Asked the Division of Marine Fisheries to update its 2017 white paper on false albacore with current fishery data and to frame potential management options for future consideration.
- Adopted the River Herring Fishery Management Plan information update. This update did not make any management changes.
- Set the annual cap on the number of commercial fishing licenses available through the Eligibility Pool at 500.
- Re-elected Commissioner Doug Cross as vice-chairman.
- Approved Notice of Text to begin the rulemaking process to amend the “Mutilated Finfish” rule (15A NCAC 03M .0101) and to readopt the “Marinas, Docking Facilities, and Other Mooring Areas” rule (15A NCAC 18A .0911). Public hearings on these rule changes will be announced at a later date.