State creates no gill net corridor along ocean surf zone

Published 6:50 pm Wednesday, April 10, 2019

North Carolina will create a no gill net corridor along the ocean surf zone later this month to reduce bottlenose dolphin interactions.

  1. C. Division of Marine Fisheries Director Steve Murphey issued a proclamation April 4, effective April 22, expanding the current restriction on small mesh gill net use within 100 yards of the ocean surf zone to include large mesh gill nets.

The Proclamation M-8-2019 covers the state’s entire coastline from Virginia to the South Carolina lines.

The intent of prohibiting all gill net use within 100 yards from shore in the Atlantic Ocean is to provide a safe corridor along which bottlenose dolphins are known to travel.

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This no gill net corridor is in accord with recommendations provided by a federal Bottlenose Dolphin Take Reduction Team. These recommendations were addressed in a November 2018 letter from National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Regional Administrator Roy Crabtree.

Crabtree wrote that bycatch from commercial gill nets continues to exceed allowable levels for two North Carolina stocks of dolphins under the Bottlenose Dolphin Take Reduction Plan, which is required under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. North Carolina estuarine stock dolphins are known to spend significant time in the surf zone foraging and traversing the area, Crabtree wrote.

This proclamation applies to large mesh and small mesh gill nets.

Run around, strike or drop nets that are used to surround a school of fish and are then immediately retrieved are exempt from this restriction. Also, the restriction does not apply to stop nets, which are stationary nets used to trap schooling fish so that they can be harvested with a seine. Stop nets are managed under a different set of proclamations.

For more information, contact with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries at 252-808-808-8088.