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MOREHEAD CITY - The Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) will be holding a series of four public hearings in eastern North Carolina in March and April.
The MFC will receive public comment on the following proposed rules at these hearings:

- Require white-line peeler crabs be held separately from pink and red-line peelers;
- Shorten attendance period for crab pots from seven days to five days;
- Unlawful to possess trawl-caught finfish in designated crab pot areas during certain times of the year;
- Restrict the taking of blue crabs by channel nets, except for bycatch that cannot exceed 50 percent of the catch or 300 lbs., whichever is greater;
- Extend the crab pot clean-up period to Jan. 15 – Feb. 7 of each year;
- Prohibit the use of yellow or pink buoys for crab pots;
- Give the DMF director proclamation authority to settle user conflicts;
- Establish a conflict resolution process;
- Allow the DMF director to implement a 6 ¾ inch size limit for female crabs and culling tolerance if the spawning stock biomass falls below levels set in the Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan;
- Expand the DMF director’s proclamation authority to increase crab trawl mesh size to minimize waste;
- Allow possession of white-line peeler crabs for use in permitted shedding operations;
- In order to stay in compliance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, it is unlawful to possess an American lobster with a carapace less than 3 3/8 inches or greater
than 5 ½ inches;
- In order to stay in compliance with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, allow the sale of recreationally-caught dolphin and wahoo by for-hire charter boats possessing appropriate state and federal permits, establish bag and trip limits and dealer and operator permits for dolphin and wahoo;
- Revoke dealer permit for ocean-intercept shad fishery because fishery is closed;
- Technical adjustments to the Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan;
- Change the boundary lines of the Mallard’s Bay primary nursery area to exclude the mouth of the waterbody; and
- Change the designated pot area boundary descriptions to a standardized 6-ft. depth contour in Hyde, Beaufort, Pamlico and Craven counties.

All hearings begin at 7 p.m.
March 22
Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources' Regional Office
127 Cardinal Drive

March 29
Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources – Archdale Building Ground Floor Hearing Room

April 5
Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources' Regional Office
943 Washington Square Mall

April 20
Clarion Oceanfront Hotel
1601 S. Virginia Dare Trail
Kill Devil Hills

Written comments may be submitted by mail to Belinda Loftin, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557 or by e-mail at [email protected] until May 2, 2005. The MFC will vote on these proposed rules at their June 28-29 business meeting in Raleigh.

For more information about these hearings, please contact Jess Hawkins by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling 1-800-682-2632 or 252-726-7021.
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