The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission has rescheduled for 1 p.m. Dec. 16 public hearings on proposed rules regarding shellfish and cut bait at the Division of Marine Fisheries’ Central District Office in Morehead City.
The hearing was originally scheduled for a Nov. 1 web conference but was canceled due to technical difficulties.
Those who wish to speak at the hearing may sign up on location before meeting.
The first proposed rule sets requirements for the harvest classification of shellfish growing waters in and around marinas, docking facilities, and other mooring areas.
The proposed rule is to keep the state in full compliance with national requirements so North Carolina shellfish can continue to be sold in other states.
Proposed amendments would allow the state Division of Marine Fisheries to determine necessary buffer closures for shellfish growing waters in and around these areas based on a more scientific and public health-based rationale and make implementation and enforceability of requirements clearer, officials said.
The second proposed rule makes amendments to mutilated finfish requirements.
The existing mutilated finfish rule, in place 1991, requires while fishing or aboard a vessel, the head and tail remain attached to any finfish that is subject to a possession limit, including a size limit, recreational bag limit, commercial trip limit, or season. The exception is for mullet or hickory shad used as bait, and tuna in a commercial fishing operation that meets the measurement required in a separate rule.
Currently there is no provision to add species to the list of exceptions without going through a lengthy permanent rulemaking process. The proposed amended rule would give the Director of the Division of Marine Fisheries authority to add or remove species from the list of exceptions by proclamation to address variable conditions as warranted, officials said.
The exception for mullet may need to be modified based on the recent striped mullet stock assessment and potential management measures developed through the upcoming fishery management plan, officials continued.
Text of the proposed rules can be found on the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission’s Proposed Rules Page.
Because of the adjusted hearing schedule, the deadline for written comments has been extended to 5 p.m. Dec. 16. Submit written comments through an online form or by mail to N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Rules Comments, P.O Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557.
The proposed rule changes will be presented to the state Marine Fisheries Commission for final approval in February 2023 and have an earliest effective date of May 1, 2023.
For questions about the Marine Fisheries Commission rulemaking process, email Catherine Blum at Catherine.Blum@ncdenr.gov, rulemaking coordinator for the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.