Fisheries commission approves season closures for striped mullet; proclamation to come later

Published 8:13 am Sunday, June 4, 2023

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The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission approved supplemental management measures to address overfishing of striped mullet in state waters on May 26, 2023.

Supplement A to Amendment 1 of the Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan was adopted with the following regional season closures:

North of the Highway 58 Bridge: Closed Nov. 7 through Dec. 31

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South of the Highway 58 Bridge: Closed Nov. 10 through Dec. 31

These measures will be implemented via proclamation later this year and are estimated to result in a 20 percent reduction in harvest.

The most recent striped mullet stock assessment indicated that the stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring. The supplement is needed to end overfishing while the Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan Amendment 2 is under development. Amendment 2 is tentatively scheduled for adoption in 2024.

In other action at a schedule meeting, the commission approved:

–The goal and objectives for the Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan Amendment 1;

– The suspension of subparagraph (4) of paragraph (e) of NCMFC Rule 15A NCAC 03O .0501 PROCEDURES AND REQUIREMENTS TO OBTAIN PERMIT for an indefinite period. This consents to the continuance of Proclamation M-11-2023, which allows a new Shellfish Relocation Permit established by Proclamation SF-5-2023 to be fully utilized.

– Notice of text for a number of proposed rules pertaining to the below four issues. The proposed rules will go to public comment and hearing later this year. The four issues are:

• Commercial shellfish sanitation and processing procedures rules under a state-mandated periodic review schedule;

• 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.

The commission also authorized the Division of Marine Fisheries to proceed with rulemaking to address identification requirements for pots that require both the gear owner’s name and vessel registration or name; and agreed by consent for the Division of Marine Fisheries to continue developing rulemaking language with management options for false albacore.