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Old 07-29-2006, 08:40 PM
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Default N.C. Assembly passes bill on fishery permits

Assembly passes bill on fishery permits
July 29,2006
Patricia Smith
jd news.com
MOREHEAD CITY ? State fisheries authorities are one step closer to a management strategy designed to keep commercial striped bass fishermen from switching gears in the middle of the seasons.
The General Assembly Thursday passed legislation, now before Gov. Mike Easley, that authorizes the Marine Fisheries Commission to establish gear-specific permits for those in the commercial striped bass fishery.
The next step will be to develop a proposal to bring before the Marine Fisheries Commission and begin the rulemaking process, said Preston Pate, director of the Division of Marine Fisheries.
The permit may not be in place for the beginning of striped bass season in December, Pate said.
?It?s really not all that critical that we have the permit in place this year,? Pate said.
Most of the problems come in managing the quota between the beach haul seine fishery and the gill net fishery, Pate said. Because of overages in the beach haul seine fishery this past season, there will be no open season for that gear this year, he said.
The commercial striped bass fishery in the Atlantic Ocean has historically been a fishery of the Hatteras area, yet it has expanded as far south as Cape Lookout in recent years as the fish?s populations have rebounded.
North Carolina manages an annual Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission-imposed commercial striped bass quota by dividing it equally between three different gear types: beach haul seines, gill nets and ocean trawls. But for several years now, Marine Fisheries has had trouble with all three gear-types exceeding their one-third quota.
When one gear-type goes over its quota, the overage must be subtracted from the other gear types. This past year the beach seine fishery overshot its quota so badly that there were no fish available for the gill net fishery.
Additionally, fisheries officials said that some fishermen who fish under the haul seine season will, once the quota is caught, make minor modifications to their gear then fish under the gill net season as well.
Requiring the fishermen to designate a gear type will help authorities know how many participants will be fishing under what category so they can better regulate catch of the quota, Pate said.
The permit would cost fishermen $10 per year, he said.
It is a proposal that has the support of the North Carolina Fisheries Association, a commercial fishing trade group.
?We think it might help some of the folks to have a season,? said Sean McKeon, NCFA president.
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Old 08-29-2006, 09:18 PM
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Default Easley signs ocean striped bass harvest bill

Outer Banks Centinel
Gov. Mike Easley has signed into law Senate Bill 1242, "An act to authorize the Marine Fisheries Commission to establish gear specific permits to take striped bass from the Atlantic Ocean."
The legislation was developed by the Joint Legislative Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture sponsored by state Sen. Charles Albertson (D-Duplin) and Rep. William Wainwright (D-Craven).
"This new law will improve the commercial striped bass fishing industry," said Easley. "These permits, issued at a minimal cost, will allow fisheries officials to better regulate catch-quotas and protect the livelihoods of North Carolina fishermen."
The three main kinds of gear used to catch striped bass in the Atlantic Ocean, mostly in the Hatteras area and as far south as Cape Lookout, are seines nets hauled behind a boat, gill nets which let smaller fish through holes in the net but capture larger fish in them, and trawls that go along the lower depths. Under the new law, fishermen must designate the equipment they intend to use when they get the $10 permit and not change in the middle of the season. The law authorizes the Marine Fisheries Commission to adopt rules and regulations for issuing the permits.
The state manages the annual Atlantic States Marine Fisheries striped bass quotas. The state had set equal quotas for each of the three kinds of gear but found that it was difficult to manage those limits. Officials say the new permitting will help manage those quotas better.
North Carolina currently has a yearly 480,000-pound commercial quota of ocean-caught striped bass. The season begins in December and ends in February. In recent years, there has been significant growth in the number of fishermen using haul seine and gill nets and quotas are often reached in just a few days.
"With a healthy Atlantic striped bass population along with an increase in the number of fishermen participating in the season, it has become difficult to manage harvests. This new law is an important step to help manage the situation and protect the state's aquaculture industry," said Sen. Charles Albertson.
"This new law will strengthen an important sector of North Carolina's economy and help keep it viable," said state Rep. William Wainwright.
The new law goes into effect immediately.
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