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MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will reduce the harvest limits on weakfish for both recreational and commercial fishermen Oct. 1

The recreational creel limit will be reduced from seven fish per person per day to six fish per person per day. The size limit will remain at 12 inches.

The commercial by-catch allowance for non-directed fisheries will drop from 300 pounds per day or trip to 150 pounds per day or trip.

DMF Director Louis Daniel signed a proclamation today establishing the new regulations.

The state is changing the weakfish harvest limits to implement management measures approved by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in February.

The changes are needed because a 2004-2005 weakfish stock assessment concluded that weakfish populations, which appeared to be recovering in the late 1990s, experienced a sudden decline between 1999 and 2003. Scientists do not believe fishing caused the decline. Instead, evidence suggests there was a significant rise in natural mortality, possibly resulting from insufficient food supply, high predation or other environmental factors. However, projections indicate stock recovery will require a very low total mortality, necessitating stricter controls on fishing.
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