THE MFC ADVISOR
Marine Fisheries Commission Business Meeting
The MFC held a business meeting September 6-7 at the Clamdigger Inn in Pine Knoll Shore, North Carolina. The following members were in attendance: Mac Currin - Chairman, Dr. B.J. Copeland -Vice Chairman, David Beresoff, Dr. Barbara Garrity-Blake, Mikey Daniels, Dr. Jim Leutze, Rusty Russ, Bradley Styron and Marshall Williford.
The minutes from the June 2007 MFC business meeting were approved by consent.
Wayne Dunbar, fisherman – spoke of the need to suspend the rules and issue a proclamation to allow trawlers to work in long-haul areas and six-foot contour areas to catch shrimp in the Neuse River, since there were no crabs being caught and no pots were set.
Alex Adams, fisherman - spoke of the need to suspend the rules and issue a proclamation to allow trawlers to work in long-haul areas and six-foot contour areas to catch shrimp in the Neuse River, since there were no crabs being caught and no pots were set.
The DMF issued a proclamation in response to these requests, which can be found at:
Sean McKeon, NCFA – asked the MFC to send a letter to NMFS asking them to use an age-based assessment for vermilion snapper rather than the length-based assessment they are currently using. Also asked the MFC to send a letter to the N.C. General Assembly stating that we do not need a legislative fiat that overrides the Fisheries Reform Act in regard to recent menhaden legislation.
Al Perry, Martin County Commission – asked the MFC to allow a 100,000-pound harvest of river herring, as recommended by the River Herring FMP Advisory. Committee.
Motion by Jim Leutze for the MFC meetings to be recorded digitally and for summary minutes to be distributed instead of verbatim minutes, seconded by Marshall Williford – motion passed 5 – 3.
The MFC reviewed the following proposed 2008 meeting schedule:
Motion by Barbara Garrity-Blake to send a letter to EMC in support of more stringent stormwater runoff measures, seconded by Jim Leutze – motion passed unanimously.
Motion by B.J. Copeland to send a letter of appreciation to Dick Hamilton thanking him for his years of service with the Wildlife Resources Commission, seconded by Rusty Russ – motion passed unanimously.
Motion by Barbara Garrity-Blake to set the Standard Commercial Fishing License
Fishery Management Plans
Motion by Jim Leutze to refer the issue of allowing the use of mechanical retrieval of trawl gear used by Recreational Commercial Gear License holders to the Crustacean Advisory Committee for consideration, seconded by David Beresoff – motion passed unanimously.
Motion by Marshall Williford for final approval of the River Herring FM Plan with associated rules, seconded by Jim Leutze – motion passed 5 - 3.
This FMP can be viewed or downloaded at:
Motion by Jim Leutze to support the Division of Marine Fisheries’ recommendations on all three Central Southern Management Area recommendations for striped bass, including notice of text, seconded by B.J. Copeland – motion passed 7 – 0, with one recusal.
Motion by B.J. Copeland to take the Oyster and Hard Clam FMPs to public meetings, seconded by Jim Leutze – motion passed unanimously.
Motion by B.J. Copeland to take the Interjurisdictional FMP to public meetings, seconded by David Beresoff – motion passed unanimously.
Management Review of Striped Bass, Red Drum, Spiny Dogfish, Large Coastal Sharks and Snapper/Grouper
For striped bass in the ocean, a new peer reviewed Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) stock assessment is scheduled for November 2007. If the review is favorable, and the mortality and spawning stock biomass remain steady, it is likely a coast wide commercial quota increase will be considered. With the recreational striped bass ocean fishery there has been a significant increase in fishing effort, from 8.3 million trips in 1997 to 12.6 million trips in 2006. Striped bass in the ocean are considered viable.
Striped bass in the Albemarle Sound Management Area have not met the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) since 2004 for the commercial bycatch fishery and 2001 for the recreational fishery. The division has extended seasons and increased daily harvest limits in order to try and allow fishermen to harvest their TAC. Striped bass in the Albemarle Sound Management Area are considered viable.
The red drum stock is showing improvement and a review of the state’s FMP is underway. The stock’s spawning potential ratio has gone from 18 percent in 1990 to over 30 percent in 2007. Red drum is listed as recovering in the latest state stock status report.
In 2005, a Spiny Dogfish Compliance Advisory Board was convened by the MFC to assist the state in developing management strategies. In 2006, the coast-wide quota was increased from four million pounds to six million pounds. For the 2007 winter fishery, North Carolina set trip limits at 4,000 pounds to try and make it economically feasible for fishermen to target these fish. The only cutting houses processing dogfish were in the Northeast and by the time the fish moved into our waters these processors had all the fish they could handle. Warm water also delayed the migration of the fish. Spiny dogfish is considered a recovering stock.
For large coastal sharks, in May 2006 the division opened state waters to shark fishing when federal waters are open to provide more opportunity to North Carolina fishermen. Recently the National Marine Fisheries Service released a draft amendment to the Consolidated Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan keeping the closed area off of North Carolina and limiting sandbar sharks to a research fishery. The division is working with the ASMFC in developing a Coastal Shark FMP to provide access for North Carolina fishermen to large and small coastal sharks under reduced quotas. Sharks are listed as a species of concern in the latest stock status report.
With the snapper/grouper complex, lower TACs have resulted from compliance with South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council plans and reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The division did enter into the lawsuit as a friend of the court in support of the North Carolina fishermen against the National Marine Fisheries Service in relation to Amendment 13C to the Snapper Grouper FMP. The commission and division will continue to use their resources to participate in the council process to strive for fair treatment and access for North Carolina fishermen in this important fishery.
The MFC asked DMF staff to send a copy of the presentation to the N.C. Watermen United and to invite them to the upcoming meeting in Ocracoke on November 15-16.
Suspension of Rules
Motion by Jim Leutze to resuspend the rules to implement the Amendment 13C measures of the Snapper-Grouper FMP in state waters, seconded by B.J. Copeland – motion passed 4 - 3.
Limited Access Privilege Programs (LAPPs)
North Carolina has always had a diverse group of commercial fishermen (full time, part time, seasonal) harvesting a diverse group of fisheries (inshore finfish, offshore finfish, shellfish). These groups are not easily delineated by the species they catch, and restricting harvests to particular sections of the commercial fleet produces an economic impact beyond the immediate confines of the fishermen’s businesses. Dealers in the Southern District, for example, rely more heavily on King Mackerel catches from a large pool of seasonal fishermen who exclusively use hook-and-line and stay within the recreational bag limits. Dealers in the Wanchese area receive harvested fish primarily from larger commercial boats using trawls and gill nets, and ship much of their product out of state. Attempts to distribute shares of the quota from one group to another will produce a geographically disproportionate economic impact.
Redistributing any fishery harvest among fewer individuals will also make the industry less resilient to business cycles, as risk is spread among a smaller number of businesses. Any movement by the MFC to change the definition of a commercial fisherman or add new categories should be done in the context of an identifiable end result. The most important question to consider is as follows: does increasing the percentage of North Carolina fishermen who work full time or year-round make the industry stronger, even if the overall number of fishermen goes down?
The following standards may be of use in defining professional commercial fishermen:
Status quo - A commercial fisherman is the holder of a commercial fishing or shellfishing license.
Landings - A commercial fisherman holds a license and has used it to sell seafood to a dealer (i.e. has documentation of commercial catch from a governmental entity).
Gear use - A commercial fisherman uses commercial gear such as trawls, gill nets, and pound nets OR has a federal or state permit.
Income (fixed) - A commercial fisherman earns a minimum amount of earned income from fishing in dollar terms.
Income (majority) - A commercial fisherman earns a majority of his or her income from commercial fishing.
Permits - A commercial fisherman possesses a permit for a federally managed species, potentially one that is closed to new entrants.
Frequency of trips - A commercial fisherman takes a minimum number of trips or fishes at least once in each defined window (months or seasons).
The MFC took no action on these options, but asked the DMF to prepare a presentation for a future meeting creating LAPP scenarios for southern flounder and king mackerel, including how fish are sold and fish houses’ dependence on these fish.
DMF staff also informed the MFC they had sent out informational material on LAPPs and a survey to 2,500 fishermen. Staff will report back to the MFC on the survey results at its November meeting.
The MFC was also provided with a chart outlining its regional advisory committees recommendations on the proposed rules.
Following are the votes to adopt the above referenced issues as permanent rules:
Motion by Barbara Garrity-Blake to adopt permanent rules for the Fishery Habitat Area Definitions in support of the CHHP goals, but to hold the Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Habitat definition for further review, seconded by B.J. Copeland – motion passed unanimously.
Motion by Jim Leutze to adopt permanent rules for the striped bass permits, which includes the beach seine definition, seconded by B.J.Copeland – motion passed unanimously.
Motion by Marshall Williford to adopt a permanent rule for the Coastal Recreational Fishing License permit, including underprivileged youth as an eligible category, seconded by David Beresoff – motion passed unanimously.
Motion by B.J. Copeland to adopt permanent rules to clarify lines between the Albemarle Sound and its tributaries for the purpose of enforcing the 500-yard distance between pound nets and gill nets, seconded by Jim Leutze – motion passed unanimously.
Notice of Text
Motion by B.J. Copeland to file notice of text to amend the Blanket For Hire Coastal Recreational Fishing License and the For Hire Permit rules, seconded by Barbara Garrity-Blake – motion passed unanimously.
Motion by Marshall Williford to file notice to text to amend electrofishing rules in joint waters of the Cape Fear River between Lock and Dam #1 and the mouth of the Black River, seconded by Rusty Russ – motion passed unanimously.
Coastal Recreational Fishing License
Waterfront Access and Marine Industry Fund
Traditional maritime industries and public access to North Carolina’s coastal waters have been rapidly disappearing, being replaced by non-waterfront-dependent development and rising property taxes. The General Assembly felt state intervention was needed to ensure existing and future waterfront-dependent uses and continued access to the state’s public trust waters.
The WAMI will receive $20 million through certificate of participation bonds, which are loans that do not use the government’s taxing power as collateral; therefore, they do not require approval by a referendum, as do general obligation bonds. The debt service will be repaid by the N.C. Parks and Recreation Trust Fund financed by a deed stamp tax on the transfer or sale of property and by specialty license plate revenues.
The Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) is the agency responsible for establishing a program to solicit proposals and disburse WAMI funds. The authorizing legislation states the DMF director may:
Consult with representatives of the commercial fishing industry and other marine industries or nonprofit groups with expertise in waterfront access issues to review potential projects.
Establish a committee to review potential property acquisitions and capital and infrastructure improvements.
The Joint Legislative Commission of Seafood and Aquaculture is given oversight of the fund and must approve all expenditures.
The DMF director will establish an advisory committee with representatives from the commercial fishing and other marine trade industries to assist in establishing a strategic plan for the fund and to develop guidelines to evaluate and select proposals. A Department of Environment and Natural Resources committee authorized in
The DMF will partner with other agencies, such as the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Sea Grant, Division of Coastal Management and others. Access projects financed by the fund may be for recreational or commercial purposes, however any land or facility purchased with the WAMI money would be owned by the state. DMF will work closely with the State Treasurer’s Office to ensure the tax-exempt status of the bonds is not jeopardized.
To Senator Charlie Albertson and Representative William Wainwright, co-chairs of the Legislative Study Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture, supporting an increase in appropriations to N.C. Sea Grant.
To the Environmental Management Commission’s supporting their proposed amendments to the Coastal Stormwater Program (Rule 15A NCAC 02H .1005), which would apply in all 20 coastal counties within ½ mile of SA waters.
To Dick Hamilton, who recently retired from the Wildlife Resources Commission, thanking him for his service to the state.
To N.C. Watermen United giving them copy of the management overview of the five species of concern to them and inviting the group to the Ocracoke meeting.
To NMFS stressing need to use age-based data for the vermilion snapper assessment in Amendment 16of the SAFMC’s Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan.
To Senator Charlie Albertson and Representative William Wainwright, co-chairs of the Legislative Study Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture, stressing concern over the encroachment of authority with the recent legislation that was passed banning the harvest of menhaden with purse seines off of Brunswick County during certain times of the year.
2007 Meeting Schedule: