THE MFC ADVISOR
Marine Fisheries Commission Business Meeting
Wilmington, North Carolina
January 13, 2004
The Marine Fisheries Commission and the Division of Marine Fisheries continue to look for ways to keep committee advisors and the public informed about commission activities. It is our intent to publish the MFC Advisor after each business meeting, summarizing the meeting, and providing a list of motions, actions, and rulemaking proceedings. Agenda items are listed in bold type to assist in navigating the document. Hopefully, this bulletin will keep you better informed about commission activities. Your comments regarding this update re always appreciated – please contact Nancy Fish by e-mail at Nancy.Fish@ncmail.net or by phone at 252-726-7021 or 1-800-682-2632.
The Marine Fisheries Commission held a business meeting January 13 at the Holiday Inn in Wilmington, North Carolina. The meeting was called to order followed by an invocation. A roll call was conducted and the following members were in attendance: Jimmy Johnson – Chairman, Bryan Gillikin - Vice Chairman, Norm Bradford, Dr. B.J. Copeland, Mac Currin, Dr. Barbara Garrity-Blake, Tilman Gray, Rusty Russ, and Bradley Styron.
Motion was made to accept the minutes from the last meeting with minor corrections – motion passed unanimously.
During the Public Comment Period, Jerry Schill, Executive Director of the North Carolina Fisheries Association, presented the following recommendations from the NCFA for a seat on the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council: Robert Southerland, Andy High and Rita Merritt. Schill also indicated the Division of Marine Fisheries had done a good job managing the summer flounder quota. He then encouraged the commission to continue to push for additional dogfish quota and an equitable management system. Schill explained that while dogfish was not a big fishery in North Carolina, it was important because it allowed fishermen to be versatile.
Billy Carl Tillet*
The following appointments were also made to the Shrimp FMP committee:
Scott Baker, John Maiolo, Brian Hartly, Gary Nowell, Linwood Stowe, Ray Brown, Rube McMullen, Doug Roberts, Doug Cross, Mike Cowdrey, Robert Southerland, Henry Daniels, Lee Hopkins, Denny McCuiston and Sandra Kellum. The commission is still looking for a channel netter to serve on this committee.
Bob Bryant and Jim Bahen have both stepped down from the Southeast Advisory Committee. They were recognized for their contribution to fisheries management in North Carolina and for their service as advisors.
Flounder Size Limit in Internal Waters Rules Suspension – The DMF increased the internal size limit for flounder in most areas from 13 inches to 14 inches by proclamation in an attempt to slow the recreational harvest rate and not exceed the harvest target for summer flounder set by the ASMFC and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. To change the size limit the DMF director had to suspend the existing rule. The rule needs to be resuspended at each subsequent MFC meeting, until a new rule is implemented.
Motion was made to resuspend the flounder size limit rules in inside waters and continue the increased size limit – motion passed unanimously.
Primary Nursery Area Rule Suspension – In updating rule coordinates, DMF staff discovered an inaccuracy in a PNA line in Mallard’s Bay in Brunswick County. In 1985 the boundary line was incorrectly recorded, which inadvertently opened a small portion of a PNA to shrimp trawling. The area is on the shoulder of the Intracoastal Waterway and at this time it is not clear if it still functions as a PNA. The DMF asked the MFC to suspend the portion of the rule that designates this area as a PNA and allow staff to conduct studies to ascertain if the area still meets PNA criteria.
Motion was made to suspend a portion of the Primary Nursery Area Rule [03R.0103 (15)(d)] that pertains to Mallard’s Bay to accommodate the situation – motion passed unanimously.
A motion was made to send a letter for increased funding for Shellfish Rehabilitation to the leadership positions in the General Assembly – motion passed unanimously.
Reports were given on all the various MFC and FMP committee activities.
During the Habitat and Water Quality Committee report a motion was made to send a letter to????? recommending denial of the cape Lookout Marina project – motion passed unanimously.
During the Finfish Advisory Committee update, the issue of the dogfish quota was once again discussed. At a recent meeting of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission the MFC’s dogfish letter was discussed, but the ASMFC voted to adopt the NOAA Fisheries measures of 4.4 million lb. of quota. Efforts were made by the North Carolina representatives to implement a 1,500 lb. trip limit, but that failed. A discussion was held about the ramifications of going out of compliance with the management of dogfish and commissioners asked that the N.C. Attorney General review the matter to see if our state has any legal recourse.
Motion was made to move forward to obtain options regarding dogfish management – motion passed unanimously.
The MFC’s Nominating Committee recommended that Robert Southerland, Andy Hoyle and Rita Merrit be considered to fill North Carolina’s obligatory seat on the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.
Motion was made to reappoint Robert Southerland to North Carolina’s obligatory seat on the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council – motion passed unanimously.
A presentation was given by the DMF on the soft bottom habitat portion of the CHPP.
Summer Flounder – The 2003 commercial season went well. Due to hazardous conditions in the channel leading to Wanchese from Oregon Inlet, North Carolian boats were allowed to land their flounder catch in Virginia during the last few weeks of the season.
The ASMFC’s Summer Flounder Board decided not to require recreational anglers to pay back overages of the recreational allotment from previous years.
Striped Bass - The commercial season in the ocean has approximately 437,000 lbs for the season to be split between the trawlers and the gill netters. The beach seine crews did not get a portion of the quota because of last year’s overages.
The gill net season opened for three days - Jan. 5, 6, and 12. The season allowed 10 fish per Standard Commercial Fishing License holder, not to exceed two license holders per vessel. It is anticipated that the gill netters landed approximately 200,000 lbs. of their 219,000 lb. allotment.
The trawl season will open later in the month and they will also have a 219,000 lb. allotment. Plans are to allow 100 fish per trawl operation, regardless of the number of people involved.
In the Albemarle Sound Management Area, the recreational season opened Oct 11 with a 137,500 lb. allotment. Only 52,000 lbs. were harvested when the season closed Dec. 31, even though the DMF increased the recreational harvest to seven days per week. The low harvest is not because the fish are not there, but rather a result of poor water clarity after Hurricane Isabel. The 2004 recreational season will open Jan. 14 on Wed., Fri., Sat. and Sun. through April 14, with a 137,500 lb. allotment.
The commercial season in the Albemarle Sound Management Area opened Oct. 27 and ran through Dec. 31 with a 269,998 lb. quota. Fishermen could take five fish per day. The total harvest was 274,151 lbs, exceeding the quota by 4,153 lbs.
Updates were given of the activities of the following groups:
Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council
South Atlantic Fishery Management Council
MFC Meetings for 2004:
Feb. 2-3 Greenville
May 13-14 New Bern
July 20-21 Jacksonville
Sept. 27-29 Kill Devil Hills