Marine Fisheries Commission moves forward with amendment to Shrimp Plan

MOREHEAD CITY

The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission voted on Thursday to take Draft Shrimp Fishery Management Plan Amendment 2 out for public comment and advisory committee review.

The draft amendment focuses on reducing bycatch of non-target species and minimizing habitat impacts. It includes a suite of options ranging broadly from status quo to a complete closure of all inside waters, including Pamlico Sound, to shrimp trawling.

The Division of Marine Fisheries will announce the public comment period and advisory committee meetings by news release in the next couple of weeks.

Also, the Marine Fisheries Commission received an update on southern flounder. Division Director Kathy Rawls reviewed the updated timeline for Amendment 3 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan. Following the amended allocation decision by the commission at their March special meeting the revised draft Amendment 3 is scheduled to be reviewed and potentially approved for public and advisory committee review in November. As a result, the seasonal management adopted under Amendment 2 will continue through 2021.

Rawls told the commission the division plans to shorten the commercial and recreational flounder seasons for 2021 because flounder harvest in both sectors in 2019 and 2020 did not meet the reductions approved in the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan Amendment 2.

The division will announce the shortened seasons by news release soon so that flounder fishermen can make plans.

In other business, the commission voted to:

  • Send a letter to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council expressing its support for maintaining the dolphin for-hire bag limit at 60 fish per vessel and 10 fish per person, using regional bag limits if needed for North Carolina for-hire vessels.
  • Approve notice of text to begin the rulemaking process for readopting a slate of rules under a state-mandated periodic review schedule.
  • Approve notice of text to begin the rulemaking process for rules to prohibit repacking of foreign crab meat in North Carolina.
  • Develop rules to require that any repacked crab meat container used for sale in the State of North Carolina that does not contain 100% domestic crab meat must have a country of origin statement in bolded 18-point type or larger permanently printed on the lid and on two sides of the cup, and that a checkoff panel or stamped country of origin not be allowed.

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