MFC advocates for water quality programs

Published 10:32 pm Friday, March 17, 2023

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The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission took a stand with other state environmental commissions for improved water quality in North Carolina.

The commission adopted a resolution advocating for increased funding for and expansion of cost-share programs that assist landowners in managing and reducing the amount of nutrient runoff into the state’s waters. The resolution was developed by the Collaborative Coastal Habitat Initiative, a private-public partnership formed as a recommendation from the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan 2021 amendment.

The resolution was also adopted by the Coastal Resources Commission during the week ending Feb. 24. It is on the Environmental Management Commission’s agenda for its March 9 meeting.

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In other business, the commission voted on but did not adopt Supplement A to Amendment 1 of the Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan, as scheduled. The draft supplement included three draft options for commercial and recreational season closures to end overfishing.

The most recent striped mullet stock assessment indicated that the stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring. The supplement is meant to immediately end overfishing while Amendment 2 is under development. Commission Chairman Rob Bizzell said the matter will come back before the commission at its May meeting.

The commission also took the following actions:

Asked Division of Marine Fisheries staff to develop rulemaking language with management options to allow for growth at various percentage points for false albacore.

Adopted amendments to two rules: Mutilated Finfish Rule (15A NCAC 03M .0101) and Marinas, Mooring Areas and Other Docking Facilities Rule (15A NCAC 18A .0911).

Both rules must be approved by the NC Rules Review Commission. The Mutilated Finfish rule is automatically subject to legislative review. The earliest effective date for the Marinas rule is May 1, 2023. The earliest effective date for the Mutilated Finfish Rule is in 2024.

The commission also selected options for a number of proposed rules pertaining to the following three issues to allow staff to prepare rulemaking items for a later meeting: Data Collection and Harassment Prevention for the Conservation of Marine and Estuarine Resources; Oyster Sanctuary Rule Changes; and Conforming Rule Changes for Shellfish Relay Program and Shellfish Leases and Franchises.