Inshore waters in northeastern North Carolina, including the Albemarle, Currituck, Croatan and Roanoke sounds and their tributaries, will close to all anchored gill nets at 5 p.m. today due to interactions with sea turtles.
The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has recorded observing five live sea turtles being caught in anchored gill nets, which meets the maximum allowed takes in area waters for the Sept. 1-Aug. 31 period of time.
Area waters will not reopen to anchored gill nets until at least Sept. 1. The reopening could occur later, depending on the abundance of sea turtles in the area at that time.
North Carolina’s inshore gill net fishery is managed under incidental take permits for sea turtles and Atlantic sturgeon. The permits are issued to the state by the National Marine Fisheries Service. They authorize limited takes of these species, listed under the Endangered Species Act, as part of conservation plans that divide the state’s internal coastal waters into six management units.
Permits require observer coverage, so that the management units are closely monitored for interactions with sea turtles and Atlantic sturgeon. An annual number of allowed interactions with each species is assigned to each gear type in each management unit. If the number of interactions is approached, the management unit must close for the remainder of the season or year.