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MOREHEAD CITY – The fate of North Carolina’s river herring fishery will be discussed at a meeting Sept. 26 at 10 a.m. at the Bob Martin Agriculture Center in Williamston.

At this meeting, the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission and an advisory committee charged with updating the state’s River Herring Fishery Management Plan will discuss a recent stock assessment showing river herring are in serious trouble. The focus of the meeting will be whether the commission should take immediate steps to close the fishery or let the issue work its way through the fishery management plan process.

Fishery management plans were mandated by the state’s 1997 Fisheries Reform Act to set long-term strategies to effectively manage each of North Carolina’s economically significant fisheries. Once the initial plans are completed they are reviewed every five years.

The River Herring Fishery Management Plan Advisory Committee, composed of commercial and recreational fishermen, scientists, and environmentalist, began meeting in April 2005 to review the existing plan and make proposals to address new issues and concerns related to the herring fishery. The committee is scheduled to complete the update in late 2006.

For more information on this meeting, please contact Jess Hawkins at [email protected] or by calling 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632.
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SHRIMP PLAN GOES TO RALEIGH FOR REVIEW

MOREHEAD CITY – The draft Shrimp Fishery Management Plan (FMP) is on its way to Raleigh for review and comment by the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the N.C. General Assembly.

After a lengthy development and public review process, the N. C. Marine Fisheries Commission, at a recent August business meeting, selected preferred management options to chart the course for future management of one of the state’s most important fisheries. In 2004, shrimp was the second-most valuable seafood landed at North Carolina docks, bringing in $9.4 dollars.

The commission endorsed the following proposed measures:
- 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 as Recreational Commercial Gear License gear;
- 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.

The commission also endorsed the proposed 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 commission rejected proposals to use a specific shrimp count size to open waters in the Neuse, Bay, Pamlico and Pungo rivers to trawling.

The draft Shrimp FMP will be reviewed by DENR Secretary Bill Ross and the Joint Legislative Study Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture. The rulemaking process and approval of the final Shrimp FMP by the Marine Fisheries Commission should begin later this year.

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