Shrimp Trawing survives by razor-thin majority vote

Regulators also considered recreational use of cast nets in areas closed to the taking of shrimp.

MOREHEAD CITY –The nine-member N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission selected its preferred management options for the draft Shrimp Fishery Management Plan Amendment 2 during a November 17, 18 & 19 business meeting in Emerald Isle The goal of the shrimp plan amendment is to further reduce by-catch of non-target species and minimize ecosystem impacts.

During a public comment period Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, a large turnout of commercial fishing proponents (including many from Pamlico County) successfully argued AGAINST proposed regional area closures that would have drastically prohibited shrimp trawling in most estuarine waters except for Pamlico Sound. The Commission vote was 5 AGAINST, 4 IN FAVOR. 

The Commission also chose management options to:

  • Eliminate the four quarts (heads on) and two and one-half quarts (heads off) recreational creel limit for cast nets in areas closed to the taking of shrimp.
  • Change the flexible opening date in all Special Secondary Nursery Areas to a static Sept. 1 each year.
  • Continue collaboration with the commercial stakeholder groups through the industry workgroup to identify and test gear modifications to further reduce bycatch in the shrimp fishery.
  • Provide for adaptive management for future action to address issues related to submerged aquatic vegetation identified through Division of Marine Fisheries collaboration with the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan support staff, the Habitat and Water Quality Advisory Committee, and stakeholder groups.
  • Maintain existing headrope limits for shrimp trawls in internal coastal waters but allow for additional headrope restrictions to be implemented to resolve user conflicts.
  • Request the division collaborate with the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan support staff, and the Habitat and Water Quality Advisory Committee on issues related to habitat. As the division deems appropriate and feasible, actions to address that impact will be identified by the appropriate committees and brought to the Commission for action as part of adaptive fisheries management.

The draft shrimp plan amendment now goes for review by the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality and legislative committees before coming back to the commission for final adoption in February.