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Potential Small Mesh Rule Change

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    Posted: 08 July 2021 at 10:42am

Please read the white paper.

For those inclined to make a difference, make comment. Make comment at every meeting and via mail.

(Note: This is an MFC function.  Rob Bizzell- what the hell is wrong?  Why are we limiting public involvement in 2021 by refusing to accept email comments? It appears the Division is purposefully targeting a specific sector to limit that sector's voice.  What is the difference between email and "snail mail"...email is easy and gets there on time to meet the comment deadline.)

Roy Cooper,
Governor
Elizabeth S. Biser

Secretary, DEQ


Kathy B. Rawls,
Division DirectorRelease: ImmediateContact: Tricia.Smith@ncdenr.gov Date: July 8, 2021 Phone: 252-726-7021Marine Fisheries advisory committees to discuss small mesh gill net issues



MOREHEAD CITY – Three advisory committees to the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will meet by web conference later this month to discuss possible future small mesh gill net management measures.



The Southern, Northern, and Finfish advisory committees will meet separately to review the Small Mesh Gill Net Rules Modification Information Paper. The paper contains an overview of the small mesh gill net fishery and presents a suite of potential management options focused on reducing regulatory complexity, potential bycatch in the fishery and user conflict. The options provided fall under four categories:

  • Yardage Limits
  • Attendance Requirements
  • Set Time and Area Restrictions
  • Mesh Size Limits


The Marine Fisheries Commission is considering moving some options forward for further development and possible rulemaking. The commission is seeking advisory committee feedback on the options before considering the issue at its August 2021 business meeting.

The committees will meet as follows:



Southern Advisory Committee
July 20 at 6 p.m.
Register to speak by noon July 19
Comment online by noon July 19


Northern Advisory Committee
July 21 at 6 p.m.
Register to speak by noon July 20
Comment online by noon July 20


Finfish Advisory Committee
July 22 at 6 p.m.
Register to speak by noon July 21
Comment online by noon July 21




Web conference links and agendas are available on the Marine Fisheries Commission Advisory Committees Meetings webpage.



The public may submit comments to the advisory committees in three ways:
  1. Sign Up to Speak at a meeting – Public comment will be accepted at the advisory committee meetings listed above. Those who wish to speak at the meetings must register by noon the day before the meeting at the provided links.
  2. Submit Online Comments – Public comments will be accepted through online forms. The deadline for submitting comments is noon the day before the meeting at the provided links.
  3. Mail Comments – Written comments may be mailed to: Comments – Small Mesh Gill Net Rules Modification Information Paper, P.O Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557. Comments must be received by the division by noon the day before the meeting.
Emailed comments will not be accepted.


Edited by Rick - 08 July 2021 at 10:51am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 July 2021 at 8:48am


Another example of the Division managing for maximum extraction versus sustainable, healthy and abundant stocks.

Weakfish are depleted with no hope of recovery in sight.  The "Predation Theory" (dog sharks, striped bass and bluefish) is an abject management failure looking for an excuse.  The latest research shows that weakfish have natal homing.  We could recover our NC stock if managed properly which means removing highly unsustainable gillnets, long-hauls and trawling in our undesignated nursery areas.

Someone help me out here-  "Targeting weakfish"?

"Exceptions include smaller mesh sizes (≤2.88 inch ISM) employed for gill nets targeting weakfish."

So....the Division says that commercial gillnetters routinely use less than 2-7/8 inch mesh for targeting weakfish.

Yet...the current weakfish management plan with existing proclamation prohibits the use of gillnets less than 2-7/8 inch to a bycatch only fishery with a maximum landing limit of 100 pounds that must be no more than 50% of that total trip landings by weight.


ZERO sense.  "Targeting weakfish" for 100-pounds?

Is the Division enforcing the 100-pound trip limit?

How can weakfish have more than double the trips of sea mullet if weakfish are truly bycatch?   

This is the JOKE of fisheries management in NC.  It is one of the reasons that weakfish cannot recover. 

What is the dead-discard rate for this fishery with a 12-inch size limit?



from page 5 of the white paper-  (my emphasis in red)

Set Nets 
Although the number of species encountered in set nets is diverse, over 99% of trips targeted at least one of 10 primary species (Table 2). These include the following, in order of magnitude: bluefish, striped mullet, spotted seatrout, Atlantic menhaden, spot, white perch, Spanish mackerel, hickory shad, weakfish, and sea mullet (kingfish spp.). The most common mesh size used for these target species was 3.25 inch ISM and mesh sizes generally ranged from 3.0 to 3.5 inch ISM. Exceptions include smaller mesh sizes (≤2.88 inch ISM) employed for gill nets targeting weakfish and sea mullet. The average yards of gill net fished per trip was highest for Spanish mackerel (1,643 yards) compared to less than 1,000 yards for all other target species. Maximum yards reported for a trip was typically between 2,000 and 3,000 yards for most species. Average yards fished was generally consistent across management units with some higher averages in management units B and D depending on target species (Figure 2; Table 3).








Current (Active) Weakfish Proclamation From 2012- 

FF-55-2012 PROCLAMATION RE: WEAKFISH COMMERCIAL FISHING OPERATIONS 
 
Dr. Louis B. Daniel III, Director, Division of Marine Fisheries, hereby announces that effective at 10:00 A.M. Sunday, November 11, 2012, the following restrictions will apply to the commercial weakfish fishery: 

 I. SIZE LIMITS, EXCLUDING HOOK-AND-LINE 
 
A. No person may take, possess, transport, buy, sell, or offer for sale weakfish less than 12 inches total length in state waters or within 200 miles of shore in the Atlantic Ocean except as provided below: below. 
 
B. From April 1 through November 15, weakfish 10 inches total length or more may lawfully be taken in North Carolina internal waters by use of long haul seines or pound nets only and possessed, transported, bought, sold, or offered for sale. 
 
C. Commercial flounder trawl and flynet operations are allowed to land a tolerance of no more than 100 undersized weakfish (< 12 inches) per day or trip, whichever is longer. It is unlawful to sell undersized weakfish. 

 II. HARVEST LIMITS 
 No person may take, possess, transport, buy, sell or offer for sale more than 100 pounds of weakfish per trip in state waters or within 200 miles of the shore in the Atlantic Ocean. 

 III. GEAR RESTRICTIONS 
A. GILL NETS: No person may possess aboard or land from any vessel using or having on board a gill net with a mesh length less than 2 7/8 inches stretched mesh, more than 100 pounds of weakfish during any one day or on any trip, whichever is longer, in state waters or within 200 miles of the shore in the Atlantic Ocean. The weight of the weakfish possessed with gill nets with a mesh length less than 2 7/8 inches shall not exceed 50% of the total weight of the combined catch up to 100 pounds of weakfish. 

 B. FLYNETS: No person may possess aboard or land from any vessel using a flynet more than 100 pounds of weakfish during any one day or trip, whichever is longer, in state waters or within 200 miles of the shore in the Atlantic Ocean. This harvest limit applies to vessels using a flynet on board that meets the following requirements: 

 1. The flynet is constructed with large mesh in the wings that measure not less than 8 inches or more than 64 inches (inside stretched mesh length); 

 2. The first body section (belly) of the net has 35 or more meshes that are at least 8 inches (inside stretched mesh length); PROCLAMATION FF-55-2012 PAGE 2 

 3. The mesh decreases in size throughout the body of the net to a tailbag with a minimum length of 15 feet with a minimum inside stretched mesh length of 3 1/2 inches hung on the square or 3 3/4 inches hung on a diamond; and 

 4. Extensions must be a minimum of 20 feet in length and constructed of webbing with a minimum inside stretched mesh length of 3 inches hung on a square, except that when the tailbag is 25 feet or greater in length, extensions may be constructed of either square or diamond meshes. 

 5. Flynets not meeting the requirements in III.B.1.through 4. above are subject to the following: The weight of the weakfish possessed shall not exceed 50% of the total weight of the combined catch up to 100 pounds of weakfish. 

 C. SHRIMP/CRAB TRAWLS: 

 No person may possess more than 100 pounds of weakfish (12 inches or more in total length) taken with a shrimp or crab trawl. The weight of the weakfish shall not exceed 50% of the total weight of the combined catch up to 100 pounds of weakfish. This limit does not apply to a Recreational Commercial Gear License shrimp trawl. 

 IV. GENERAL INFORMATION 

 A. This proclamation is issued under the authority of N.C.G.S. 113-170.4; 113-170.5; 113-182; 113-221.1; 143B-289.52; and N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Rules 15A NCAC 03H .0103 and 03M .0512. 

 B. It is unlawful to violate the provisions of any proclamation issued by the Fisheries Director under his delegated authority pursuant to N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Rule15A NCAC 03H .0103. 

 C. It is unlawful to use flynets south of Cape Hatteras to the North Carolina/South Carolina line according to N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission Rule 15A NCAC 03J .0202. 

 D. The intent of this proclamation is to implement restrictions required to comply with the Addendum II of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Weakfish Management Plan. 

 E. This proclamation supersedes Proclamation FF-66-2010, dated August 17, 2010. 

 By:__________________________________ 
 Dr. Louis B. Daniel III, Director DIVISION OF MARINE FISHERIES 
 November 9, 2012 9:00 A.M. 
FF-55-2012


Edited by Rick - 12 July 2021 at 11:30am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 July 2021 at 9:26am

Links to submit your online comments:  





Yeah...the Division isn't making it easy.  C&P your comments to each link.


My submitted comments are shown below-



Gillnets need to be permanently banned from NC waters- all gillnets.

I submit the following option recommendations per the choices allowed by the division:

Yardage Limits-
Option 5: Specify that the allowable yardage of gill nets with stretched mesh less than four inches shall not exceed
800 yards per vessel in Internal Coastal Waters north of Highway 58 and 500 yards south of Highway 58, regardless
of the number of individuals involved.

Attendance Requirements-
Option 4: Require year-round statewide attendance for gill nets with mesh size less than four inches with no change to attendance definition.

Set Time and Area Restrictions-
Option 3: Specify that nets may be set no sooner than one hour before sunset and retrieved no later than one hour
after sunrise statewide

Option 5: Specify that nets may not be fished from midnight on Friday to midnight on Sunday statewide. (Note: this should be changed to midnight on Thursday to midnight on Monday statewide.)

Mesh Size
Option 4: Increase the minimum mesh size to 3.0 inch ISM

Edited by Rick - 12 July 2021 at 10:18am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 July 2021 at 1:25pm

The chart below includes all gears, not just gillnets.

...and as always, NC is the problem.

Give me any state's gillnet rules from SC to Texas.

NC's Fisheries Management Moto: Too Little, Too Late, Too Bad.






Edited by Rick - 12 July 2021 at 2:00pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chriselk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 July 2021 at 4:00pm
If this is landings Rick, then-shrimp trawl bycatch is not part of this graph.  
If this is so, then would not the NC share be larger?
The above comments are my personal opinion and do not represent those of any organizations or agencies I may be a member of.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 July 2021 at 4:28pm
Originally posted by chriselk chriselk wrote:

If this is landings Rick, then-shrimp trawl bycatch is not part of this graph.  
If this is so, then would not the NC share be larger?

The effect of shrimp trawl bycatch in the Pamlico Sound dwarfs trip ticket landings.

According to NCDMF studies, juvenile weakfish represent approximately 7% of trawling bycatch in the Pamlico Sound. In 2008, the ASFMC estimated the total east coast spawning stock biomass to be 4.5-million pounds. During that 2008 shrimp season, Pamlico Sound trawlers killed 1.7-million pounds of juvenile weakfish or 46-millon individual juvenile gray trout. A gray trout becomes sexually mature at about one year of age and 3/4 of a pound in weight. If only 5% of those 46-million juveniles killed as shrimp trawl bycatch made it to sexual maturity, the spawning stock biomass would have increased by 1.7-million pounds or 38% in one year. By eliminating trawling bycatch, the potential ability of the stock to rebound is huge. What if 10% made it to sexual maturity versus dying as bycatch!


...but this is a gillnet thread.


They need to be completely banned in NC waters.






Edited by Rick - 12 July 2021 at 4:29pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 August 2021 at 8:16am

SOSDD in fisheries management in NC...because "we're different."

The division couldn't even get through the full presentation before a commercial seat on the MFC made a motion for status quo, which passed.

Dr. Martin Posey held the swing vote...just as he will on every contentious issue.  Posey voted for status quo.

There was a feigned attempt by Posey and the commercial seats to convince all that the motion was not status quo because it was prefaced by a statement saying that any gill net changes should be part of the Fishery Management Plan process on a species by species basis, which is already the case today.

The motion was STATUS QUO!

Now, the question that begs an answer is who got to Posey?

The Secretary himself asked for this gillnet review.  There was truly no honest review.  The division couldn't even get the full discussion on the table before the first motion was made.

Secretary Regan moved on to the EPA.  A new secretary is in place.  Was this killed at the Department level?  

Did Jerry Schill and Hendrickson get to Posey?

SOSDD.

Support the CCA lawsuit, it's your only hope in fisheries management reform.


Support the NCCFRG lawsuit, it addresses the environmental impacts of trawling.





Edited by Rick - 27 August 2021 at 8:21am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 August 2021 at 10:10am

Great review this morning by David Sneed in the CCA-Tidelines Report email:

MFC QUARTERLY MEETING RECAP

The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission wrapped up its one-day quarterly business meeting yesterday without moving the needle on any substantive management measures that will change the direction of our declining fish stocks. The discussion and votes on the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan (FMP) Amendment 2 that were scheduled for this meeting were delayed until the November meeting and the three commercial fishing commissioners were able to convince the two at-large commissioners, Tom Hendrickson and Martin Posey, that no new rules were necessary in the small-mesh gill net fishery, so the only remaining reform effort on the agenda this quarter died in a 5-4 vote. 

This was particularly sad given the extreme amount of work that Fisheries Management Section Chief Steve Poland and his team put into preparing the issues papers and exploring options for new, consolidated regulations at the request of the Commission and then DEQ Secretary Michael Regan. Poland did not even get through his full presentation before Commissioners Cross and Romano introduced a motion to have no additional small-mesh gill net regulations voted on, proposing instead that they will be dealt with on a species by species basis during the individual FMP process. The commercial commissioners even convinced Hendrickson and Posey that this delay was not a status quo move even though it literally is the definition of status quo. Hendrickson supported the logic that this was not status quo because the issues would be dealt with in future FMPs - or so it was promised. At least Posey recognized that this was indeed status quo by pointing out that some of these plans were five years out, but voted for the motion anyway.

The Commission had options presented to them that could have looked at permanent rules on Yardage Limits, Attendance Requirements, Set Times and Area Restrictions, and Increasing the Minimum Mesh Size. The potential options were being considered to address regulatory complexity, the reduction of bycatch in the small mesh gill net fishery, and to the greatest extent practical reducing conflict between gill net users and other stakeholders. The commercial commissioners took turns stating how none of these issues were a problem worthy of a solution at this time and pointed the finger instead at the number of recreational fishermen compared to the shrinking number of commercial fishermen and how many more red drum and speckled trout rec anglers catch than commercial fishermen. This deflection, denial and delay is particularly nonsensical given that red drum and speckled trout are not overfished and are such an important gamefish that virtually all other coastal states protect them from commercial harvest. Their arguments, however, succeeded in deflecting attention away from the fact that NC commercial harvest has accounted for almost 40% of the total coastwide harvest of Southern flounder - a species that has been overfished for decades. They even raised concern for the potential of additional recreational dead discards in the Southern flounder fishery because of a couple of catch and release tournaments. This successfully deflected any discussion about underreported discards in the commercial gill net and shrimp trawl fisheries. The strategy reminded me of the scene from The Wizard of Oz, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

NC Fresh continued their public campaign to defend NC seafood as "sustainably caught" during the public comment period, even suggesting that the 72% harvest reductions on Southern flounder were unfair to the NC consumers who wanted their flounder. Southern flounder is literally the poster child for poor fisheries management after decades of overfishing and denial and lawsuits by the commercial industry to keep commercial fishermen over harvesting Southern flounder. The same three minutes of public comment included demands that no changes be made to how NC shrimpers harvest shrimp because the consumer wants access to these NC caught shrimp without regard for the impacts. Apparently NC Fresh also wants us to accept a new definition of "sustainable".  

Watching a NC MFC meeting is a maddening glimpse into the politics that have defined fisheries management in North Carolina for over 30 years now. Let's hope MFC Chairman Rob Bizzell and new Fisheries Director Kathy Rawls can turn it around soon. The new definitions of status quo and sustainable sure don't make their jobs any easier.

 

If you are not familiar with our lawsuit, you can learn more about it by visiting our website www.ccanc.org and consider becoming a Steward of the Resource in support. CCA NC filed the lawsuit with an initial coalition of 86 individual co-plaintiffs and additional plaintiffs will be added at the appropriate time. We have been holding a significant list of people who want to be added, so if you are interested in joining our coalition as a co-plaintiff, or would like information about what is involved in being a plaintiff, please contact me by responding to this email.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 August 2021 at 10:37am
The man behind the curtain...lol. I remember putting this together a few years ago. Jerry Schill was then director of the NC "unsustainable" Fisheries Association. He is now head of NC"u"FA governmental affairs.

The NC"u"FA-  bringing NC citizen's unsustainable fisheries management through Political Science for the last thirty years!



Edited by Rick - 27 August 2021 at 10:54am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 August 2021 at 11:05am
In 2015 the Division said we needed a 40% flounder cut to rebuild the stock. The NCFA threatened to file a lawsuit and the MFC capitulated with a promise not to implement any additional Southern flounder rules until completion of a stock assessment and the next FMP- Amendment 2. 

The Southern Flounder FMP A2 brought us a 72% reduction five years later.

Deny, Defend, Deflect, Delay

Delay
 is killing us. You can put 100% of the blame for the current Southern flounder fishery on the NCFA.

With yesterday's small mesh DELAY, you can be promised that they are coming after red drum and speckled trout. 

Cycles is another term for overfishing, a tragedy of the commons. 

The commercials are good at adapting to those "cycles". They will adapt right to red drum and speckle trout.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TomM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 August 2021 at 7:38pm
And the road goes on forever……….."…
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