The state division of marine fisheries is reminding anglers that the recreational cobia season closes in state waters this Friday, Sept. 30.
Once the season closes, anglers must immediately release any cobia they catch, but for the rest of this week the regulations remain as adopted by the Marine Fisheries Commission in May:
A 37-inch fork length (measured from the tip of the snout to the fork in the tail) minimum size limit for all recreational fisheries.
Anglers fishing from private boats may only fish on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays under daily possession limit of two fish per vessel or one fish per person if only one person is on board.
Those fishing from the shore or shore-based structures (pier or surf) may fish seven days a week with a daily possession limit of one fish per person.
Those fishing on a for-hire boat (charter or guide) may fish seven days a week with a daily possession limit of four fish per vessel or one fish per person if fewer than four people are on board.
Those practicing catch-and-release may fish seven days a week.
By default, this means that Wednesday will be the last day of cobia season for those fishing on a private boat.
Cobia season in federal waters has been closed since June 20 because recreational fishermen exceeded the annual catch limit in 2015. Under the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's accountability measures, when the annual catch limit is exceeded in one year, the length of the following year’s season must be reduced to ensure that the recreational harvest does not exceed that year’s annual catch limit.
The federal government encouraged states to remain consistent with these measures and close state waters for recreational cobia season on June 20, as well. The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission sought to avoid shutting the fishery down in the summer and, instead, adopted a Sept. 30 closure and stricter regulations.
Recreational cobia season will reopen in state and federal waters on Jan. 1, 2017.
For more information, contact Michelle Duval with the Division of Marine Fisheries at 252-808-8011 or at Michelle.Duval@ncdenr.gov, or see Proclamation FF-28-2016 at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamations.