New requirements for gear configurations for shrimp trawls will go into effect July 1 for areas of Pamlico Sound and portions of the Pamlico and Neuse rivers.
The new gear configurations will be required in all shrimp trawls, except skimmer trawls, used in inside waters where up to 220 feet of combined headrope length is allowed (Pamlico Sound and portions of Pamlico River and Neuse River).
Gear requirements for the remaining internal coastal fishing waters, where up to 90 feet of combined headrope length is allowed, and for the Atlantic Ocean out to three miles remain unchanged.
The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission approved the new requirements at its May 2018 business meeting as part of Amendment 1 to the N.C. Shrimp Fishery Management Plan after a collaborative study between the Division of Marine Fisheries, NOAA Fisheries, N.C. Sea Grant and the commercial shrimp trawl industry identified four devices that achieve at least 40-percent reduction in bycatch.
A bycatch reduction device is a fishing gear modification designed to reduce the catch of non-target species.
The new gear configuration requirements for trawl nets in Pamlico Sound and portions of the Neuse and Pamlico rivers:
- Increase the tail bag/cod end minimum mesh length to 1 3/4 inches;
- Specify the use of authorized bycatch reduction devices properly installed and operational in the tail bag/cod end of each net;
- Specify installation of turtle excluder devices.
The Virgil Potter bycatch reduction device is also approved for fishermen to use in shrimp trawls in these areas.
Try nets are also limited to a maximum of 12-feet headrope length for consistency with federal requirements in all areas. A try net is a smaller net pulled for brief periods just before or during deployment of the primary nets to test for shrimp concentrations or determine fishing conditions.
For specifics on the new shrimp trawl requirements for Pamlico Sound and portions of the Pamlico and Neuse rivers, see Proclamation SH-1-2019. For shrimp trawl requirements in all other areas in coastal fishing waters see Proclamation SH-2-2019.