No public input will be taken at meeting
The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission has called an emergency meeting for tomorrow, March 13. It will be held at the Lenoir County Courthouse on S. Queen Street in Kinston, N.C. at 10 a.m.
The meeting will not offer the chance for public input. But the matter of the meeting is of interest to the public, especially recreational and commercial anglers. On March 4, Marine Fisheries issued a request to the Director of Division of Marine Fisheries to restrict the use of gill nets that interact with striped bass upstream of the ferry lines of certain coastal rivers which will be closed under this directive. The Director refused this request.
So essentially, as it stands right now, the MFC’s Supplement A to Amendment 1 of the Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan that we reported on last week will still close the recreational harvest down in those coastal rivers. The commercial gill nets, however, will still be allowed.
Director says data does not support need for gill net closure
Steve Murphey, Director of Division of Marine Fisheries said he sees no scientific data to support the reason for the request to ban gill nets in those areas. He also stressed catch-and-release recreational fishing will still be a source of striper mortality, even with a no-harvest rule in place.
“While I respect the concerns of both the public and the MFC, after careful consideration I have concluded that such a measure is not supported by the scientific data that support gill nets as the primary or even the most significant source of discard mortality. As you are aware, recreational effort will not be controlled under the Supplement, and catch-and-release will be a source of discard mortality as well.
“Therefore, I respectfully decline to act on this request to issue a proclamation further restricting gill nets beyond those measures outlined in Supplement A,” Murphey said in response to the Marine Fisheries Commission.
The press release issued about this emergency meeting states “the commission will address directing the Director of the Division of Marine Fisheries to issue a proclamation regarding gill nets, similar if not identical to the one requested at the commission’s February meeting.”