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MOREHEAD CITY – The commercial red drum season will reopen Monday in North Carolina coastal waters, with stricter harvest limits than last year.

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Director Louis Daniel told the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission last week he plans to reopen the season, which runs Sept. 1 to Aug. 31 each year, with a seven-fish per day bycatch allowance, so long as the weight of flounder, striped mullet, bluefish or black drum on board exceeds the weight of the red drum.

The Marine Fisheries Commission voted to support Daniel’s plans.

In North Carolina, commercial fishermen are not allowed to target red drum, but when the season is open, they are allowed to retain a certain number of red drum caught incidentally when targeting other species. For the past several years, that allowance has been 10 fish and any finfish species except menhaden could serve as the target species.

This past year, the commercial red drum season closed Nov. 23 after the annual red drum commercial harvest limit was exceeded in the first months of the annual season.

As a result, most internal coastal waters have been closed to anchored large-mesh gill nets since May to avoid incidental catches of red drum. These waters will remain closed until at least Sept. 15 to allow sea turtles to move out of the area.

Additionally, in July, the state limited anchored gill net use in Albemarle and Currituck sounds and tributaries to overnight soaks to aid the state in complying with observer coverage required by a Sea Turtle Incidental Take Permit. The overnight soak requirement will be lifted Monday, as well, when a requirement for a new Estuarine Gill Net Permit takes effect.

For more information on the red drum and gill net regulations, see proclamations FF-55-2014 and M-25-2014 athttp://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamations.

In other business, the Marine Fisheries Commission

  • Approved text and fiscal impact analysis for a slate of proposed rules to go to public hearing. The proposed rules include regulations to implement amendments to the Shrimp, River Herring and Bay Scallop fishery management plans and Addendum III to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Interstate Fishery Management Plan for American Eel. Additional changes are proposed for ocean pier licensing and for-hire licensing and logbooks.
  • Voted to send a draft amendment to the Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan out for public comment that proposes an increase in the target population biomass in recognition of their importance as prey species to many important finfish species.
  • Voted to send draft Strategic Habitat Area Nominations for Region 3 out for public comment.

Prior to the meeting, newly appointed commissioners Sammy Corbett (commercial industry seat) and Mike Wicker (scientist seat) and reappointed commissioner Joe Shute (recreational industry seat) were sworn in. A photo of these commissioners taking the oath of office can be downloaded athttp://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/mfc-swearing-in.
 

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"The annual harvest limit for the fishing year September through August is 250,000 pounds. However, the Plan requires any overage from one year to be deducted from the subsequent year. The September through April harvest period harvest limit will be reduced from 150,000 pounds to 137,324 pounds due to an overage in this period from the prior fishing year"

So the limit between May til August will be 100,000 pounds? I just need some clarification.
 
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