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MOREHEAD CITY – A series of meetings will begin next week offering the public an opportunity to discuss future management of North Carolina’s red drum fishery.

The five meetings will detail proposals in a draft update to the state’s Red Drum Fishery Management Plan. A fishery management plan makes long-term regulatory recommendations for a fishery.

The meetings will be held:

Tuesday, March 4 6 p.m. McKimmon Center
1101 Gorman Street
Raleigh

Wednesday, March 5 6 p.m. Craven County Agriculture Building
300 Industrial Drive
New Bern

Thursday, March 6 6:30 p.m. Hatteras Civic Center
Hwy. 12
Hatteras

Tuesday, March 11 6:30 p.m. Dobo Hall
Room 103
University of North Carolina-Wilmington
Wilmington

Wednesday, April 2 Noon Department of Environment and
Natural Resources Regional Office
943 Washington Square Mall
Washington

These meetings are being held in conjunction with scheduled advisory committee meetings for the Marine Fisheries Commission.

Since April 2007, an advisory group, consisting of commercial and recreational fishermen, scientists, and N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries staff, has been discussing issues relating to the red drum fishery so as to revise the 2001 fishery management plan. The advisory committee drafted the proposed plan, now going out for public input.

Once the public meetings are complete, the Marine Fisheries Commission will endorse all or portions of the plan, which is then sent to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the General Assembly for review and comment. The draft plan will come back before the Marine Fisheries Commission for any modifications and then the rulemaking process begins. When rulemaking is complete, the commission adopts the final plan and implements any needed rules.

Included in the draft Red Drum Fishery Management Plan are management recommendations for trip and gear limits, educational outreach, environmental concerns and data needs. The public is encouraged to attend these meetings and share their thoughts on the future of the red drum fishery.

Recommended changes to commercial harvest regulations

Continue the current commercial regulations, which are a 250,000-pound annual harvest cap, prohibited possession of fish greater than 27 inches and a seven fish trip limit with a provision requiring that red drum make up no more than 50 percent of the total catch. The director of the Division of Marine Fisheries has authority to modify the trip limit.

Or

Continue the current 250,000-pound annual harvest cap, but increase the trip limit to 10 fish; allow possession of up to three fish while fishing, prior to meeting the 50-percent bycatch provision, so long as the total catch, upon landing, meets the 50-percent bycatch provision

Recommended changes to attendance requirements for small mesh gill nets (smaller than 5-inches stretched mesh)

Lengthen the seasonal attendance requirement for small mesh gill nets (currently May 1 – Oct. 31) to May 1 through Dec. 31 in primary and permanent secondary nursery areas and modified no-trawl areas, within 200 yards of the shoreline in areas north of Core Sound and within 100 yards of the shoreline in Core Sound and waters south.

Or

Require year-round attendance of small mesh gill nets in primary and permanent secondary nursery areas, except for the Albemarle Sound Management Area, Core Sound and waters south; lengthen the seasonal attendance (currently May 1 – Oct. 31) to May 1 – Nov. 31 in primary and permanent secondary nursery areas and modified no-trawl areas in Core Sound and waters south; and lengthen the attendance season to May 1 – Nov. 31 within 200 yards of the shoreline statewide, except for Core Sound and waters south during October and November

Recommended changes to attendance requirements for large mesh gill nets (greater than 5 inches stretched mesh)

Require unattended large mesh gill nets to be set a minimum of 25 yards from shore from June through October.

Or

Require unattended large mesh gill nets to be set parallel from shore and a minimum of 10 feet from shore in all state waters.

Recreational size and bag limits

No changes are recommended to the current recreational slot size and creel limit of one fish per day between 18 inches and 27 inches.

Visit http://www.ncdmf.net/download/RDFMP_revised draf_ 2-19-08.pdf to view the Red Drum Fishery Management Plan. For more information about red drum management, please contact Lee Paramore by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling 252-473-5734.
 
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