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MOREHEAD CITY – Beaufort is a location added to a series of summer public meetings to discuss the draft Shrimp Fishery Management Plan. This meeting was requested by shrimp fisherman. Closing additional North Carolina inshore waters to trawling and establishing a recreational limit for shrimp harvest are among a list of actions being considered.
Since January 2004, an advisory group of commercial fishermen, recreational anglers and scientists, along with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, have been developing a fishery management plan for shrimp. Management plans are required for all of the state’s significant fisheries. These plans describe the nature and problems of a fishery, along with long-term regulatory recommendations to address any problems and ultimately conserve that fishery. Fishery management plans use all available scientific information that applies to the species and its fisheries.

Shrimp support a significant Tar Heel fishery, bringing in 4.8 million pounds to state docks, valued at $9.4 million in 2004. While the actual stock is viable, there is concern about the environmental impact of otter trawls, bycatch of other species, effect of imports and competition among user groups. The advisory group and the NCDMF were able to reach consensus on the majority of management recommendations in the plan.

Highlights of the proposed management changes include:

· Area and/or season closures in the Pungo, Pamlico, Neuse, and White Oak rivers, Masonboro Sound, bays and creeks near the mouth of the Cape Fear River, and waterways in Brunswick County;
· Two-year phase out of otter trawls in the upper New River, to be replaced with skimmer trawls;
· 90-foot headrope limit for otter trawls in internal waters, except the Atlantic Ocean, Pamlico Sound and portions of the Neuse, Pamlico and Pungo rivers;
· Allow skimmer trawls to be used by Recreational Commercial Gear License holders;
· Establish a 48-quart limit per day for Recreational Commercial Gear License holders;
· Define dimensions of a shrimp trap for use by Recreational Commercial Gear License holders; and
· Increase the minimum shrimp size at which some water bodies are opened to trawling to increase the value of the product.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the following location:

August 12
Duke Marine Lab Auditorium
Pivers Island
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