Commercial mechanical oyster harvesting now open

Published 4:04 pm Wednesday, November 18, 2020

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North Carolina Marine Fisheries Proclamation SF-5-2020 opens the season to commercial harvest of oysters from public bottom by mechanical methods, including the bays in Pamlico Sound, in accordance with the N.C. Oyster Fishery Management Plan Amendment 4.

The proclamation became effective at sunrise on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020.

The proclamation notes the following:

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It is unlawful for the catch container (bag, cage) attached to a dredge to extend more than two feet in any direction from the tooth bar.

Mechanical oyster harvest will be allowed Monday through Friday from sunrise until 2 p.m. each day. Oyster dredges must be out of the water and stowed on deck after 2 p.m. each weekday.

Mechanical oyster harvesters may possess no more than 10 bushels of oysters while working in the 19 restricted areas identified in the proclamation. Mechanical oyster harvesters may possess no more than 15 bushels of oysters while working outside of the restricted areas and may transport their catch through the restricted area to the point of landing.

N.C. General Statutes 113-168.2 and 113-169.2 require mechanical harvesters to hold a standard commercial fishing license with a shellfish endorsement. Crew members working under the direction of a person who holds a valid standard commercial fishing license with a shellfish endorsement are not required to hold a shellfish license.

Minimum size is three inches.

Maps are provided to aid in the identification of the specified harvest areas. Maps do not supersede existing rules or supersede proclamations closing areas to harvest by reason of pollution. The military restricted areas and danger zones shown on the proclamation maps are closed to civilian access pursuant to federal rules 33 CFR 334.410 and 334.420. These closures render these areas unavailable for oyster harvest.

Changes in harvest areas may be implemented by proclamation at a later date.

It is unlawful for harvesters to fail to deliver oysters and clams harvested from coastal fishing waters to a licensed shellfish dealer within 12 hours of the time of the start of harvest.

Proclamation M-8-2020 allows for the incidental take of blue crabs in oyster dredges at 10% of the total weight of the combined oyster and crab catch or 100 pounds, whichever is less.

Maps of the 19 restricted areas are available online at under marine fisheries.



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