Waters reopen to flounder gill nets
MOREHEAD CITY – Waters south of Oregon Inlet will reopen to set flounder gill nets Sept. 30.
N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Director Louis Daniel issued proclamations yesterday that will reopen parts of Pamlico Sound, upper Core Sound and estuarine waters south of the N.C. 58 bridge that have been closed since July.
These waters will reopen under provisions of a newly-received sea turtle incidental take permit for gill nets, which carries the same restrictions on soak times and gear requirements and requirement for observer coverage as was previously implemented through a lawsuit settlement agreement between the state and the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.
The permit divides the estuarine waters of the state into seven different areas and authorizes an annual, per-species limit of incidental sea turtle takes in each area. These allowed takes are divided into two fishing gears: large-mesh and small-mesh gill nets.
While exempted from regulations in the lawsuit settlement agreement, there are observer coverage requirements and limits on sea turtle takes for the small-mesh gill net fishery in the incidental take permit.
In addition, the Pamlico Sound Gill Net Restricted Area now falls under the same soak times, gear requirements and observer requirements as other areas. A federal, seasonal deepwater large-mesh gill net closure in Pamlico Sound remains in place.
Under the permit, the fishing year begins Sept. 1 and ends Aug. 31, so if the level of allowed incidental takes is met by either gear for any sea turtle species in a particular water area, it will close that water area to the specific gill net gear until Aug. 31, 2014.
Another new requirement is that all commercial and recreational gill net fishermen must report any incidental capture of a sea turtle to the division at 252-726-7021 or 1-800-682-2632. This includes both large-mesh and small-mesh gill nets.
For specific regulations, see Proclamations M-30-2013 and M-31-2013 at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamations.
For more information, contact Chris Batsavage, the division’s Protected Resources Section chief, at 252-808-8009 or Chris.Batsavage@ncdenr.gov.