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MOREHEAD CITY (March 27, 2006) – The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will hold a hearing on April 4, at 7 p.m. at the Regional Office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 943 Washington Square Mall, in Washington, N.C.

Public input is needed on the following proposed shrimp rules, which are recommended in the draft Shrimp Fishery Management Plan:
· Establish a four-year phase out of otter trawls, to be replaced with skimmer trawls, in the New River, upstream of the Hwy. 172 bridge;
· Allow skimmer trawls with a headrope of less than 26 feet to be used by Recreational Commercial Gear License holders;
· Implement a 48-quart cooler per person possession limit on recreationally caught shrimp;
· Limit the length of trawl headropes to 90 feet in inshore waters, except in the Pamlico Sound and portions of the Neuse, Pamlico and Pungo rivers; and
· Restrict channel nets in the upper New River and Topsail Sound area when these areas are closed to mobile gear; and

Closing the following areas to shrimp trawling:
· Newport River upstream of a point running from Penn Point to Hardesty Farms;
· Neuse River upstream of a point running from Wilkinson Point to Cherry Point;
· White Oak River upstream of Hancock Point;
· Pamlico River upstream of Wades Point and Goose Creek;
· Pungo River upstream of Wades Point and Abels Bay;
· Intracoastal Waterway from Marker #105 to Wrightsville Beach drawbridge;
· Cape Fear River in the bays south of Fort Fisher and the Baldhead Island creeks; and
· Core Sound along the banks side north of Drum Inlet to Wainwright Island.

The striped mullet rules being proposed are part of the draft Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan; they include:
· Restricting the recreational harvest of striped mullet to 200 mullet per person per day; and
· Allow fishermen using striped mullet as bait to be exempted from the mutilated finfish rule.

The Marine Fisheries Commission also needs to receive input on the following two options for managing the commercial ocean mullet fishery on Bogue Banks
from September 1 – November 15, between Fort Macon State Park and Raleigh Street:

Option One
a) Gill nets cannot exceed 160 yds.;
b) No stationary gill nets can be used beyond 150 yds. of the mean low water mark extending offshore in a southernly direction;
c) No gill nets set within 750 ft. of an ocean fishing pier; and
d) No gill nets set within 450 yds. east of a deployed stop net, measured from where each net connects to shore.

Option Two
a) Gill nets with one end attached to shore cannot exceed 160 yds.;
b) Gill nets not exceeding 200 yds. may be used with the 350-yd. zone;
c) No gill nets set within 750 ft. of an ocean fishing pier; and
d) No gill nets set within 450 yds. east of a deployed stop net, measured from where each net connects to shore.

For more information about the proposed shrimp rules, please contact Rich Carpenter at 800-248-4536 or 910-796-7215. For more information of the proposed striped mullet rules, please contact David Taylor at 800-682-2632 or 252-726-7021.

Written comments my be submitted to Belinda Loftin, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557 or by e-mail to [email protected] by April 26, 2006

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