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MOREHEAD CITY – Beginning Sept. 1, all fishermen who use anchored gill nets in the coastal rivers and sounds of North Carolina will be required to hold an Estuarine Gill Net Permit.

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries will begin issuing these permits, free of charge, Friday, Aug. 1. Fishermen may submit an application for a permit at any division license office during normal office hours or through the mail.

The Estuarine Gill Net Permit will be required for anchored large-mesh and small-mesh gill nets set for commercial or recreational purposes. It applies to those who set nets under a Standard Commercial Fishing License, Retired Standard Commercial Fishing License or Recreational Commercial Gear License.

The permit is not required for runaround, strike or drop gill nets that are set and then immediately retrieved. It is also not required for drift gill nets that are used to capture fish while they are moved by water currents and are actively fished and attended from deployment through retrieval.

The permit is not required to set gill nets in the ocean.

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

The permit was developed to meet requirements of incidental take permits for sea turtles and Atlantic sturgeon, issued to the state by the National Marine Fisheries Service. The incidental take permits require the division to identify all participants in North Carolina’s estuarine anchored gill net fishery.

It is also intended to improve fisherman compliance with regulations that require them to take division observers on board for fishing trips. The incidental take permits require minimum observer coverage of 7 percent (with a goal of 10 percent) for large-mesh gill nets and minimum observer coverage of 1 percent (with a goal of 2 percent) for small-mesh gill nets in different management units by season. Failure to comply with the observer coverage requirement could result in closure of North Carolina’s gill net fishery.

Refusing to allow an observer to observe a gill net trip will result in revocation of the fisherman’s Estuarine Gill Net Permit.

Fishermen may download an Estuarine Gill Net Permit application and answers to frequently asked questions at http://tinyurl.com/NC-Estuarine-Gill-Net-Permit. Fishermen may also request an application through the mail by calling 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632.

For more specific regulations pertaining to the permit, see Proclamation M-24-2014 at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamations.

For more information about the permits or requirements of the incidental take permits, contact Jacob Boyd with the division’s Observer Program at 252-808-8088 or [email protected].
 
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