THE MFC ADVISOR
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 and rulemaking proceedings. Hopefully this bulletin will keep you better informed about commission activities. Visit http://www.ncdmf.net/mfc/advisor.html to view this and past issues of the Advisor. Your comments regarding this update are always appreciated – please contact Nancy Fish by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 252-808-8021 or 1-800-682-2632.
The MFC held a business meeting May 28 at the N.C. Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, North Carolina. The following commission members were in attendance: Mac Currin – Chairman, David Beresoff, Rob Bizzell, Mikey Daniels, Jess Hawkins, Edward Lee Mann, Rusty Russ and Bradley Styron. Dr. B.J. Copeland had an excused absence for this meeting.
Motions and Actions
Chairman Mac Currin reminded the commission of the requirements of Executive Order One.
Commissioner Jess Hawkins gave the invocation.
Due to an abbreviated meeting schedule a public comment period was not held; however, written comments on proposed agenda items were submitted to the MFC prior to the meeting.
DENR Assistant Secretary David Knight spoke to the MFC regarding budget issues that are impacting state government.
CRFL - DMF Director Louis Daniel updated the MFC on the April 23, 2009 meeting of the Joint MFC/Wildlife Resources Commission CRFL Committee, which he chairs. He reported the committee had reviewed and approved by consensus administrative procedures allowing additional funding requests and no-cost extensions for approved CRFL projects. He advised the MFC the committee had approved second-year funding for the shallow-draft barge and the coastal fishing reef, approved the CRFL five-year project plan and approved the CRFL Request for Proposals for 2009 and then presented these items to the MFC for approval in the form of motions for their concurrence.
Motion by DMF Director Louis Daniel to approve the second-year CRFL funding for the shallow-draft barge and the coastal fishing reef – motion passed unanimously.
Motion by DMF Director Louis Daniel to carry on with the CRFL five-year project plan for recurring projects – motion passed unanimously.
Motion by DMF Director Louis Daniel to approve and issue the CRFL Request for Proposals for 2009 – motion passed unanimously.
To view the 2009 CRFL Request for Proposals, go to:
To view a press release on the 2009 CRFL Grant Request for Proposals, go to:
Fishery Management Plan Guidelines Amendment
“Management options that set quantifiable fishing restrictions must meet a minimum standard of 50 percent probability of achieving the management benchmark(s) (e.g. fishing mortality rate) necessary to achieve or maintain sustainable harvest.”
Motion by Rusty Russ to accept updated FMP guidelines that includes language that fishery management plans have to include a standard of at least 50 percent probability of achieving the target mortality rate, seconded by Rob Bizzell – motion passed, five in favor and two opposed.
To view the FMP Guidelines presentation, go to:
Spotted Seatrout Interim Management Measures
DMF biologist Beth Burns reviewed results of a recent stock assessment for spotted seatrout that indicates the MFC may need to reduce fishing mortality by as much as 50 percent. That stock assessment is being updated with 2007 and 2008 harvest data and should be completed in July. In the meantime, Burns said it makes sense to establish a minimum size limit at 14 inches, based on the biology of the fish. At 14 inches, 98 percent of female spotted seatrout have spawned at least once.
To view this presentation and the associated information paper, go to:
Motion by Rob Bizzell to direct the regional advisory committees and the Finfish Advisory Committee to consider modifying the size limit for spotted seatrout to 15 inches through proclamation - motion died for lack of a second.
Several MFC members expressed concern that interim measures would supplant the fishery management plan process, saying they preferred to wait two months for results of the updated stock assessment before making interim recommendations. However, it was pointed out that interim measures are part of the fishery management plan process as set out in state law and if the MFC did not take action at this meeting to have the regional advisory committees consider interim measures, then the MFC would not have time to implement measures before the start of the fall fishery.
Director Daniel said he felt it was important to point out that we have an opportunity here in North Carolina to jump start the recovery of spotted seatrout. He pointed out that the spotted seatrout fishery parallels with the red drum fishery in the late 1990s and if we go ahead and protect the existing strong year classes of spotted seatrout we should see a dramatic improvement in the stock, just like we did with red drum. Interim measures could be implemented that will allow more fish to be available to spawn and creating a faster recovery.
Commissioner Bizzell added he believes officials in Raleigh are expecting the MFC to address this issue. He reminded the MFC the gamefish bill is not dead, it is sitting in the General Assembly and that the bill can come back if legislators feel the MFC is not addressing the issue. He said he does not want the issue legislated.
Motion by Rob Bizzell to ask to direct the regional advisory committees and the Finfish Advisory Committee to review and comment of raising the spotted seatrout minimum size limit to 14 inches, seconded by Edward Lee Mann – motion passes, four in favor and three opposed.
Commissioner Bizzell then discussed directing the regional advisory committees to consider bag limits, trip limits, seasons or any combination of the regulations, as well as how to address user conflict issues. He suggested possibly reducing commercial harvests in primary nursery areas or have commercial and recreational fishermen fish on different days.
The DMF has been bombarded with complaints about user conflicts between commercial and recreational fishermen in the Newport and White Oak rivers, and attempts to get the parties to mediation have not been successful. Director Daniel said the conflicts are partly the result of a rule the MFC adopted last year requiring commercial fishermen to attend their gill nets at all times. This forced many commercial fishermen to stay in the creeks during rougher weather, competing for fishing spots with recreational fishermen.
Commissioner Bradley Styron said he felt if you shut an area off to one fisherman, you should shut it off to all fishermen - don’t let either the recreational or commercial fishermen fish in the shallow waters where there are conflicts.
Commissioner Hawkins said that if the DMF knows the creeks where the conflicts exist, the MFC should give the DMF director authority to close those creeks. Director Daniel said his only concern in specifically closing the existing conflict areas is that the fishermen and conflicts will simply shift to other areas.
Motion by Rob Bizzell to direct the regional advisory committees and the Finfish Advisory Committee to consider:
Seconded by Rusty Russ – motion fails, two in favor and five opposed.
Spotted Seatrout FMP Goals and Objectives
Goal: Determine the status of the stock and ensure long-term sustainability for the spotted seatrout stock in North Carolina.
Motion by Jess Hawkins to approve the goals and Objectives of the Spotted Seatrout FMP, seconded by David Beresoff – motion passed unanimously.
Southern Flounder Interim Management Measures
Commissioner Hawkins noted that if biologists had used the same benchmarks set in the current fishery management plan, overfishing would not be occurring, but biologist used different benchmarks for the recent stock assessment. He said the stock is turning in the right direction, we just have a long way to go. Chairman Currin said that under current harvest rates we’re not going to get where we need to be.
Quotas also were not recommended. Batsavage said that the Southern flounder fishery is one of North Carolina’s largest inshore commercial fisheries and there are too many participants and dealers to manage under a quota system that would require daily monitoring.
Motion by Jess Hawkins for the MFC to take to the regional advisory committees interim measures for Southern flounder a list of specific conflict areas and dates provided by the DMF, seconded by Mikey Daniels – motion passed unanimously.
River Herring – The MFC was advised 36 people applied for a river herring permit this past spring and landed 400 pounds. None of the catch was sold to the Jamesville Herring Festival. Director Daniel questioned whether the amount of fish caught was worth the staff time and expense needed to allow the harvest.
Striped Bass amendment – The MFC was advised of an ASMFC Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board vote on May 4 to develop an addendum to include options to allow states to roll-over up to 50 percent of unused commercial striped bass quota to the next year’s fishing season. The draft addendum will be prepared for the board’s next meeting in August, and technical committee and advisory panel advice will be sought.
Director Daniel said he believes North Carolina representatives have generated interest among board members in asking the National Marine Fisheries Service to reconsider the moratorium on striped bass harvest and possession in federal waters.
Motion by Jess Hawkins for the MFC to send a letter to President Barack Obama at the appropriate time requesting he rescind the executive order prohibiting striped bass harvest in the EEZ, seconded by Mikey Daniels – motion passed unanimously.
The meeting adjourned.