As the commercial flounder season approaches, state Division of Marine Fisheries officials are reminding gill net fishers that one of the conditions for the estuarine gill net permit is to allow division staff to observe operations.
Because of COVID-19 risks, staff will monitor from a distance using division-owned boats. Division staff will continue to contact fishers to schedule observations and approach those on the water to observe trips.
Refusal to allow staff to observe a gill net trip or failure to abide by permit conditions will result in suspension or revocation of the permit, according to the division.
The commercial southern flounder season opens Sept. 15 in the Northern Management Area, which includes Albemarle, Roanoke and Croatan sounds and their tributaries, and Oct. 1 in other estuarine waters of the state.
The estuarine gill net permit is a critical step in meeting the requirements of the division’s sea turtle and Atlantic sturgeon Incidental Take Permits issued by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act, the division said. It is required for anyone who sets an anchored large-mesh or small-mesh gill net in estuarine waters, commercially or recreationally.
Fishermen convicted of using anchored gill nets in internal coastal waters without holding an estuarine gill net permit could be subject to a Class A1 misdemeanor.
The estuarine gill net permit is available for free from the Division of Marine Fisheries. the application is available online. Completed applications may be emailed to License@ncdenr.gov or mailed to the Division of Marine Fisheries, License Office, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City 28557.
Completed applications can also be dropped off at the division’s headquarters in Morehead City or the field offices in Manteo, Washington or Wilmington.
For specific information on the commercial flounder season, see Proclamation FF-40-2021. For more information about observer coverage, contact the Protected Resources Program Supervisor Barbie Byrd at 252-808-8088 or Barbie.Byrd@ncdenr.gov.