Division of Marine Fisheries reminds gill net fishermen of observer requirements; staff will continue to monitor fishery from state boats during flounder season due to COVID-19


The commercial flounder season opens soon, and the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is reminding gill net fishermen that one of the conditions for the Estuarine Gill Net Permit (EGNP) is to allow division staff to observe gill net operations. 
In response to risks associated with COVID-19, observations will occur at a safe distance from fishermen using division-owned boats. Division staff will continue to contact fishermen to schedule observations and approach fishermen on the water to observe trips. 

Refusing to allow an observer to observe a gill net trip or failing to abide by permit conditions will result in suspension or revocation of the permit.
The EGNP is a critical step in meeting the requirements of the division’s sea turtle and Atlantic sturgeon Incidental Take Permits issued by NOAA Fisheries under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act. It is required for anyone who sets an anchored gill net (large-mesh or small-mesh) in estuarine waters (commercially or recreationally).

Fishermen convicted of using anchored gill nets in internal coastal waters without holding an EGNP could be subject to a Class A1 misdemeanor. 
The EGNP is available for free from the Division of Marine Fisheries. Fishermen can download an application here. Completed applications may be emailed to License@ncdenr.gov or mailed to the Division of Marine Fisheries, License Office, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City 28557. 
Fishermen also may submit completed applications in drop boxes provided at the following division offices:

DMF Headquarters
3441 Arendell St.
Morehead City
Phone: 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632
Manteo Field Office
1021 Driftwood Dr.
Phone 252-473-5734 or 800-405-7774
Pamlico District Office 
943 Washington Square Mall, Highway 17
Phone: 252-946-6481 or 800-338-7804
Southern District Office
127 Cardinal Drive Extension
Phone: 910-796-7215 or 800-248-4536

The commercial southern flounder season opens Sept. 15 in the Northern Management Area, which includes Albemarle, Roanoke, and Croatan sounds and their tributaries and Oct. 1 in other estuarine waters of the state. For specific information on the commercial flounder season, see Proclamation FF-40-2021.

For more information about observer coverage, contact the Protected Resources Program supervisor Barbie Byrd at 252-808-8088 or Barbie.Byrd@ncdenr.gov.

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