After two failed motions to move forward last week, North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission members tabled further action on the Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan Amendment 2.
The commission is to take up the proposed management measures for inland coastal waters when it meets again in November.
Amendment 2 was developed by the Division of Marine Fisheries and Wildlife Resources Commission and contains management measures to address sustainable harvest in the Albemarle Sound and Roanoke River management areas and the Tar-Pamlico, Neuse and Cape Fear rivers.
The move to table followed a lengthy discussion during the commission’s quarterly meeting Aug. 17-18 in Jacksonville, when Gov. Roy Cooper’s three new appointments to the commission, Donald Huggins, Doug Rader and Ana Shellem, were sworn in. Huggins fills an at-large seat, Rader fills the scientist seat, and Shellem fills a commercial fisher seat.
The discussion focused on gill net prohibitions in the upper Neuse and Pamlico river systems but concerns that the new committee members were not up to speed were expressed as well.
Ultimately, one of three new members, Shellem, made the motion to table the discussion. The motion passed 7-1 with Commissioner Tom Roller opposed.
Estuarine striped bass management will continue as prescribed by Amendment 1, including the temporary management measures related to possession limits and the use of large-mesh gill nets in the upper Neuse and Pamlico river systems, until Amendment 2 is adopted.
“Adaptive management was implemented earlier this year based on the current stock assessment, which indicated the Albemarle-Roanoke Striped Bass stock is overfished and overfishing was occurring. The Division is currently updating that assessment to determine if further management measures are necessary for the conservation of the stock,” officials said.
In other business, the commission did the following:
- Endorsed sending a letter to the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council in support of maintaining the management measures under the Dolphin Wahoo Fishery Management Plan Amendment 10, as it believes that the proposed management measures under the Dolphin Wahoo Regulatory Amendment 3 are inequitable to North Carolina. Additionally, the letter will state that the commission supports further assessment of the impacts of climate and other factors on dolphin stocks.
- Asked the Division of Marine Fisheries to update its 2017 white paper on false albacore with current fishery data and to frame potential management options for future consideration.
- Adopted the River Herring Fishery Management Plan information update. This update did not make any management changes.
- Set the annual cap on the number of commercial fishing licenses available through the eligibility pool at 500.
- Reelected Commissioner Doug Cross as vice chairman.
- Approved notice of text to begin the rulemaking process to amend the “Mutilated Finfish” rule and to readopt the “Marinas, Docking Facilities, and Other Mooring Areas” rule. Public hearings on these rule changes are to be announced later.