THE MFC ADVISOR
Marine Fisheries Commission Business Meeting
Atlantic Beach, North Carolina
October 2 - 3, 2003
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 October 2 – 3 at the Best Western Crystal Coast Resort in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. The meeting was called to order followed by an invocation given by Rev. Charles Royal of the First Baptist Church of Morehead City. A roll call was conducted and the following members were in attendance: Jimmy Johnson, Chairman; Bryan Gillikin, Vice Chairman; Dr. B.J. Copeland; Mac Currin; Dr. Barbara Garrity-Blake; Tilman Gray, Rusty Russ and Norm Bradford. Bradley Styron was excused from the meeting.
Motion was made to accept the minutes from the last meeting – motion passed unanimously.
During the Public Comment Period, Jody Merritt, Head Park Ranger at Fort Macon State Park and board member of the North Carolina Seafood Festival welcomed the MFC to the Crystal Coast and invited them to attend the upcoming Seafood Festival activities.
Jerry Schill, Executive Director of the North Carolina Fisheries Association, spoke encouraging MFC members to attend the Blessing of the Fleet ceremony that is part of the Seafood Festival weekend. He then advised the MFC that the NCFA Board of Directors had been unable to meet due to Hurricane Isabel and consequently been unable to discuss the Coastal Conservation Association of NC’s petition for rulemaking to prohibit the harvest of river herring. He requested this petition be discussed at the MFC’s Nov. meeting so the NCFA’s board would have the opportunity to discuss the matter. Schill also informed the MFC about a presentation made by the conservation group Legasea that was given at the NCFA’s office. Dr. Louis Daniel of the DMF also attended the briefing and both felt the information presented was outdated and in many cases not applicable to North Carolina fisheries. He also asked the MFC to formally support the proposal by fishermen to obtain permits from NMFS to characterize the flynet fishery south of Hatteras again this year.
Turtle Bycatch Committee – The following committee members have been named:
Joanne Braun McNeil
Charles Van Salisbury
Billy Carl Tillet
The first committee meeting is planned for mid October.
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.
MFC Appointments – Tillman Gray, Mac Currin, Brian Gillikin, and Rusty Russ were all reappointed by Governor Mike Easley.
Update: On Oct. 30, Governor Mike Easley reappointed Jimmy Johnson as Chairman of the Marine Fisheries Commission.
Election of Vice Chairman – Brian Gillikin and Dr. B.J. Copeland were both nominated for the position. Brian Gillikin won the vote 4 to 2, and was reelected vice chairman.
Conflict Resolution – Dr. Barbara Garrity-Blake distributed a paper she wrote on conflict resolution, reviewing how other states and organizations were tackling this issue. A discussion was held on how to approach social conflicts. Chairman Johnson feels the regional advisory committees are the appropriate place for these issues to be discussed.
Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council – The council will be meeting the following week in Dare County. All MFC members were encouraged to attend. Items pertinent to North Carolina being discussed are dogfish, summer flounder, and striped bass in the EEZ.
Reports were given on all the various MFC and FMP committee activities.
Emergency Blue Crab Economic Assistance Rules (Chairman Johnson and Tilman Gray recused themselves from this discussion and vote) - The DMF asked the MFC to halt the temporary rules for the Blue Crab Economic Assistance Program and handle the rule through its emergency rulemaking process. N.C.’s fishermen have been adversely impacted by Hurricane Isabel. Although the Blue Crab Economic Assistance Program is set up to provide federal funds to fishermen, dealers and processors who caught blue crabs in 2000, 2001 and 2002, by taking the emergency rule route, the MFC would expedite getting economic relief to some portions of the fishing community.
Motion was made to stop processing temporary rules for the Blue Crab Economic Assistance Program (03S.0103) and proceed with emergency rule making authority for this program – motion passed unanimously.
Flynet Characterization Study - The National Marine Fisheries Service has tentatively agreed to allow the flynet characterization study south of Cape Hatteras to continue with the following conditions:
- Participants pay for observers; and
-The study be conducted over two consecutive years, regardless of the availability of large schools of fish.
Motion was made for the MFC to endorse the Flynet Characterization Study as a two-consecutive year study with fishermen paying for observers – motion passed unanimously.
An update was given on the Draft North Carolina Striped Bass FMP.
A presentation was given by Galen Johnson of the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Science on The Role of Trawl Discards in Sustaining Blue Crab Production.
Division of Marine Fisheries Director’s Report
Legislative Update – The Joint Legislative Study Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture met in Morehead City on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. On the first day of the meeting, the JLSCS&A met at the DMF hanger, where they were given on overview of the division, followed by a tour of eastern Carteret County flooded by Hurricane Isabel. The group then proceeded to Cedar Island where they met with local fishermen regarding the impact of the storm on fishing operations. The second day of the meeting, the panel held a formal business session where they were given annual reports on the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan and fishery management plans and fishery items that need legislative consideration.
Economic Value of Commercial Fisheries in North Carolina – this report, which profiles the impact of commercial fishing in coastal counties, has been recently updated and can be found at http://www.ncdmf.net/download/index.html on the DMF’s Web site.
CHHP – A brief update was given on the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan progress.
Updates were given of the activities of the following groups:
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
Petition for Rulemaking- The Coastal Conservation Association of NC presented the MFC with a petition for rulemaking in August, requesting river herring harvest be prohibited until the stock is recovered. The petition will be forwarded to the Finfish and Northeast advisory committees for review and comment. The MFC will consider the petition at its November business meeting in Kill Devil Hills.
Southern Flounder Gigging Survey – The survey was conducted from July 2000 to January 2003 to gauge the impact of recreational gigging activities on southern flounder in N.C. Highlights from the report show that 90 percent of the gig catch was southern flounder. When survey results are statistically projected out on a statewide basis, it is estimated in 2002 there were 15,136 gigging trips, catching 223,321 fish, which equaled 441,005 pounds of fish.
Conclusions drawn from the report are:
-The gig fishery in N.C. harvests predominately southern flounder;
- Approximately 360,000 pounds of southern flounder landings from the recreational gig fishery go unreported each year; and
-The most ideal and cost-effective solution to collect timely and accurate information on the gig fishery would be to include gigs as a gear on the Recreational Commercial Gear License (RCGL)
William Small, N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, gave an overview of N. C.’s Shrimp Marketing efforts.
An update was given by Dr. Hans Paerl of theUNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Science, on the N.C. Ferry Water Quality Monitoring Program.
MFC Meetings for 2003:
November 18-19 Kill Devil Hills