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MOREHEAD CITY – Fishermen are reminded a number of new fisheries rules for coastal waters go into effect Sept. 1.

Most of the rules pertain to the blue crab and southern flounder fisheries and are being implemented as part of the fishery management plan process. The new rules include:

Crab Rules
· Shorten attendance period for crab pots from seven days to five days with a hardship provision;
· Unlawful to trawl in designated crab pot areas during certain times of the year in the Pamlico/Pungo, Bay and Neuse rivers;
· 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;
· Change the designated pot area boundary descriptions to a standardized 6-ft. depth contour in Hyde, Beaufort, Pamlico and Craven counties.
· 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 for crab pot conflicts;
· Allow the DMF director to implement a 6 ¾-inch size limit for female crabs and a 5 ¼-inch for female peeler crabs and a 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 up to 4 inches to minimize waste;
· Only allow possession of white-line peeler crabs if the harvester uses them in their permitted shedding operation;
· Require white-line peeler crabs be held separately from pink and red-line peelers;

Flounder
· Commercial fishermen cannot use more than 3000 yards of flounder gill net per vessel, in internal waters;
· Require 5 ½ inch stretched minimum mesh size for all flounder gill nets in internal waters, this will require the prohibition of gill nets from 5 inch to less than 5 ½-inch stretched mesh, from April 15 – Dec. 15;
· 500-yard minimum distance between pound nets and gill nets in Albemarle Sound, from August 15 – December 31;
· Flounder pound nets must have an escape panel 5 ½ inches or greater to allow small flounder to escape;
· Exempt flounder aquaculture operations from size and season requirements;
· Allow 80 percent of the commercial ocean-caught flounder quota to be harvested during the winter season, beginning Jan. 1 of each year.

Dolphin and Wahoo Rules
· Establish a 2 fish per person recreational limit on wahoo
· Establish a 10 fish per person recreational limit on dolphin, no to exceed 60 fish per boat
· Establish operator and commercial vessel permits for dolphin fro commercial and for-hire sectors
· Prohibit sale of recreationally caught dolphin and wahoo.

Others
· Unlawful to possess American lobster with a carapace less than 3 3/8 inches or greater than 5 ½ inches;
· Remove dealer permit requirement for ocean-intercept shad fishery because fishery is closed;
· Technical adjustments to rules that implement 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;
· Create a permit and training requirements for dock owners to cultivate oysters in containers under their docks;
· Modify shellfish lease fee rules to compliment statutes

For more information on these new rules, 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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