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MOREHEAD CITY – All North Carolina waters will close to commercial red drum harvests at noon Thursday.

The closure is necessary because the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries estimates the yearly harvest is approaching the 250,000-pound commercial cap implemented by the N.C. Red Drum Fishery Management Plan.

Preliminary trip ticket totals indicate that commercial fishermen had harvested 221,343 pounds of red drum by mid-February. Late February and March figures are not yet complete.

Under the closure, it will be illegal to keep or sell a red drum caught incidentally to any commercial fishing operation, except one legal-sized red drum that may be kept for personal consumption.

Commercial dealers will have until April 15 to sell and transport unfrozen red drum that were harvested prior to this closure.

The red drum commercial fishing cap will reset Sept. 1.

The closure does not affect recreational catches of red drum. The recreational harvest limits remain at a one-fish per person per day of a size between 18 inches and 27 inches.

For more information, contact Lee Paramore, biologist with the Division of Marine Fisheries, at (252) 473-5734
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