DMF reminds gill net fishermen of observer requirements

Published 7:50 am Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The commercial flounder season opened Sept. 15, 2022 for mobile gears and the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is reminding gill net fishermen that an estuarine gill net permit (EGNP) is required to use anchored gill nets in estuarine waters.

The mobile gears season, which includes gill nets, opened at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 15.

One of the conditions of the EGNP is to allow division staff to observe gill net operations and observer staff will be contacting fishermen to schedule an onboard observed trip. Refusing to allow an observer to observe a gill net trip or failing to abide by permit conditions will result in suspension or revocation of the permit.

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Another condition of the EGNP is that fishers 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 EGNP 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. It is required for anyone who sets an anchored gill net (large-mesh or small-mesh) in estuarine waters (commercially or recreationally).

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

Marine Patrol officers and other NCDMF staff will also be conducting alternative platform observations.

The EGNP is available for free from the Division of Marine Fisheries. Fishermen can download an application at deq.nc.gov/media/27088/open. Completed applications may be emailed to License@ncdenr.gov or mailed to the Division of Marine Fisheries, License Office, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City 28557.

Fishermen also may submit completed applications in drop boxes provided at the Manteo Field Office, 1021 Driftwood Dr., Manteo, and at offices in Morehead City, Washington and Wilmington.

For more information about the commercial flounder season, see Proclamations FF-40-2022, M-15-2022 and M-17-2022. For more information about the recreational flounder season, see Proclamation FF-44-2022.

For more information about observer coverage, contact the Protected Resources Program supervisor Barbie Byrd, by phone at 252-808-8088 or email Barbie.Byrd@ncdenr.gov or the Coastal Programs manager Casey Knight by phone at 252-808-8094 or email Casey.Knight@ncdenr.gov.

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