The Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality has directed the Division of Marine Fisheries to conduct a thorough review of the regulations governing the use of small mesh gill nets in North Carolina fisheries. After decades of actions by numerous Marine Fisheries Commissions (MFC), the department, the division and federal agencies, the regulations have become complex, difficult for stakeholders to understand and create an enforcement challenge.
A review to simplify the regulations with a goal to reduce bycatch and sustain our stocks is important to commercial and recreational fishermen. The Division of Marine Fisheries will:
- Begin a review of existing MFC small mesh (less than 4 inches) gill net rules and proclamations to identify potential amendments with respect to minimum mesh size, total yardage and attendance requirements; and
- Issue a proclamation this spring to limit yardage for small mesh nets with reasonable upper limits based on analysis of average, minimum and maximum yardages currently used and address attendance requirements in certain ‘hot spot’ areas.
- Present rule change options to the MFC later this year.