NCDMF resumes onboard observations of estuarine gill net fisheries

Published 6:35 pm Sunday, May 1, 2022

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The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will resume onboard observations of estuarine gill net fisheries beginning May 1. Onboard observations will be the primary method with limited use of alternative platform observations primarily conducted by Marine Patrol officers.

Division staff have been conducting alternate platform observations of estuarine gill net fisheries using division-owned boats since June 2020 in response to potential risks associated with COVID-19.

The decision to resume onboard observations as the primary observation method is based on improved COVID-19 indicators. Under Executive Order 224 issued by Governor Roy Cooper for all cabinet agency employees, division staff are either fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or provide proof of weekly negative COVID-19 test results

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Fishermen are reminded that an estuarine gill net permit is required to use anchored large or small gill nets in estuarine waters, commercially or recreationally.

One of the conditions of such a gill net permit is to allow division staff to observe gill net operations. Another condition of that permit is that fishermen must not avoid or mislead observers, which includes but is not limited to failing to return phone calls, failing to notify the division of a phone number change within 14 calendar days of such change and providing incorrect information on fishing activity. Refusing to abide by permit conditions will result in suspension or revocation of the permit.

The estuarine gill net permit is a critical step in meeting the requirements of the division’s sea turtle and Atlantic sturgeon incidental take permits issued by NOAA Fisheries under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act.

Fishermen convicted of using anchored gill nets in internal coastal waters without holding a gill net permit could be subject to a Class A1 misdemeanor.

The estuarine gill net permit is available for free from the Division of Marine Fisheries. Fishermen can download an application at Completed applications may be emailed to or mailed to the Division of Marine Fishermen, License Office, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City 28557.

Fishermen also may submit completed applications in drop boxes provided at division offices. The Manteo field office address is 1021 Driftwood Dr., Manteo. Other office locations are Morehead City, Washington and Wilmington.