RE: LARGE MESH GILL NETS: INTERNAL COASTAL WATERS
Dr. Louis B. Daniel III Director, Division of Marine Fisheries, hereby announces that effective at 2:30 P.M., Wednesday, March 30, 2011, the following provisions shall apply to the use of large mesh gill nets:
I. SUSPENSION OF PORTION OF MARINE FISHERIES RULE 15A NCAC 03J .0103
The following portion of Marine Fisheries Rules for Coastal Waters 15A NCAC 03J .0103 is suspended:
Section (i) (1), which reads:
(i) For gill nets with a mesh length five inches or greater, it is unlawful:
(1) To use more than 3,000 yards of gill net per vessel in internal waters regardless of the number of individuals involved.
II. AREAS AND EXEMPTIONS
A. This proclamation applies to all internal coastal waters except for Albemarle and Currituck sounds and their tributaries described as follows:
1. In Albemarle Sound, the restrictions do not apply north and west of a line beginning at a point 35º 57.5590’N - 75º 56.8200’ W; running northeasterly to a point 36º 04.8280’N - 75º 47.4050’W.
2. In Currituck Sound, the restrictions do not apply north of the Highway 158 Wright Memorial Bridge beginning at a point on the western shore at 36º 04.8280’N - 75º 47.4050’W; running easterly along the south side of the bridge to a point on the east shore at 36º 05.5770’N - 75º 44.5850’W.
B. A run-around, strike or drop net that is used to surround a school of fish and then is immediately retrieved is exempted from the restrictions in this proclamation.
C For the American and hickory shad fishery, the following areas are exempt from the restrictions listed in Section III. A., B., and D of this proclamation. The maximum yardage limit in III. C is still in effect.
1. Albemarle Sound Management Area as defined in Marine Fisheries Rule 15A NCAC 03R .0201 (a)
2. In Pamlico Sound and its tributaries (excluding Pamlico, Pungo, Bay and Neuse rivers), south of a line at Highway 158 Wright Memorial Bridge beginning at a point on the western shore at 36º 04.8280’N - 75º 47.4050’W; running easterly along the south side of the bridge to a point on the east shore at 36º 05.5770’N - 75º 44.5850’W and north of a line at the Wainwrights beginning at a point 34° 59.7942’N – 76° 14.6514’W on Camp Point; running easterly to a point at 34° 58.7853’N – 76° 09.8922’W on Core Banks.
Pamlico, Pungo and Neuse Rivers will not be exempt from the restrictions in Section III. A., B. and D. of this proclamation due to provisions of the Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan. The boundaries for the rivers are described below:
All internal fishing waters west (upstream) of the 76° 28.0000’W longitude line which passes near Roos Point at the mouth of Pungo River south to Point of Marsh at the mouth of the Neuse River.
3. In Cape Fear River and its tributaries, north of a line running from a point on the west shore at 34° 04.6040’N – 77° 56.4780’W; running easterly to a point on the east shore at 34° 04.7920’N – 77° 55.4740’W.
III. GILL NET RESTRICTIONS
It is unlawful to use large mesh gill nets (defined as 4 inches to 6½ inches stretched mesh, inclusive) unless they comply with the following provisions:
A. It is unlawful to set and retrieve large mesh gill nets except during the following times:
1. No sooner than one hour before sunset on Monday and no later than one hour after sunrise on Tuesday.
2. No sooner than one hour before sunset on Tuesday and no later than one hour after sunrise on Wednesday.
3. No sooner than one hour before sunset on Wednesday and no later than one hour after sunrise on Thursday.
4. No sooner than one hour before sunset on Thursday and no later than one hour after sunrise on Friday.
B. It is unlawful to use large mesh gill nets of more than 15 meshes in height and without a lead core or leaded bottomline. It is unlawful to use cork, floats, or other buoys except those required for identification except that south of the Highway 58 bridge, beginning at a point on the north shore at 34° 40.7848’N - 77° 04.0273’W; running southerly to a point on the south shore at 34° 39.8620’N – 77° 03.7438’W, floats are allowed.
C. It is unlawful to use or possess more than 2,000 yards of large mesh gill net per vessel north of the Highway 58 bridge (coordinates above) and it is unlawful to use or possess more than 1,000 yards of large mesh gill net per vessel south of the Highway 58 bridge.
D. It is unlawful to set more than 100 yards of large mesh gill net without leaving a space of at least 25 yards between separate lengths of net.
IV. GENERAL INFORMATION
A. This proclamation is issued under the authority of N.C.G. S. 113-134; 113-170.4; 113-170.5; 113-182; 113-221.1; 143B-289.52 and N.C. Fisheries Rules 15A NCAC 03H .0103 and 03J .0101 and .0103.
B. It is unlawful to violate the provisions of any proclamation issued by the Fisheries Director under his delegated authority pursuant to N.C. Fisheries Rule 15A NCAC 03H .0103.
C. The intent of this proclamation is to implement gill net restrictions while the Division applies for a statewide incidental take permit from NMFS under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act. The proclamation also includes the extension of an exemption of certain areas from gill net restrictions for the shad fishery. Pamlico, Pungo and Neuse rivers will revert to the sea turtle protective measures due to the requirement for tie-downs and distance from shore measures after the Central Southern Management Area striped bass season closure as stated in the Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan.
D. The restrictions in this proclamation apply to gill nets used by Recreational Commercial Gear License holders as well as Standard and Retired Commercial Fishing Licenses holders.
E. The small mesh gill net attendance requirements in N.C. Marine Fisheries Rule 15A NCAC 03J .0103 (h), size restrictions in 03J .0103(a)(2), the navigational passage requirements in 03J .0101, as well as all other existing gill net rules and proclamations remain in effect. This does not allow flounder nets in the eastern ASMA.
F. This proclamation supersedes Proclamation M-10-2011, dated March 25, 2011.
March 28, 2011