The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission on Thursday voted to send out a draft amendment for review and public comment of the state’s management plan for the striped mullet fishery.
The commission voted in May to shut down the taking of striped mullet from early November through the end of the year, also known as jumping mullet and finger mullet, which are primarily used locally as bait to catch a variety of other fish including red drum, flounder and bluefish.
According to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, the 2022 stock assessment indicated the striped mullet stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring, and the draft plan proposes options for rebuilding the stock within a legally required timeframe.
Options in the draft Amendment 2 plan include:
- Size limits,
- Season closures,
- Area closures,
- Trip limits,
- Combinations of measures,
- Day of the week management,
- A catch cap on the stop net fishery,
- Recreational vessel and bag limits,
- For-hire vessel and bag limits, and
- Adaptive management.
The Division of Marine Fisheries has initially recommended the following measures, which are subject to change based on public and advisory committee input:
- 50-pound trip limit Jan. 1-31 and Nov. 16-Dec 31,
- Year-round Saturday through Sunday 50-pound trip limit,
- 500-pound trip limit Feb.1-Oct.15,
- 30,000-pound stop net catch cap,
- 50 fish recreational individual bag limit,
- For-hire vessel bag limit equal to the number of anglers they are licensed to carry (including possession in advance of a trip), and
- Adaptive management.
In other business, the commission:
- Directed Division of Marine Fisheries staff to publish notice of text, pending approval of the regulatory impact analysis by the Office of State Budget and Management, to amend 15A NCAC 03Q .0106 so that in cases where the Marine Fisheries Commission and Wildlife Resources Commission rules do not match for marine and estuarine resources, the Marine Fisheries Commission rule would supersede in Joint Fishing Waters.
- Forwarded the names of Thomas N. Roller, Christopher G. Kimrey, Michael R. Oppegaard, and E. Jot Owens to the Governor’s Office for consideration for the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council at-large seat; and to forward the names of Anna Barrios Beckwith, Stuart Creighton, and William Gorham to the Governor’s Office for consideration for the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council at-large seat.
- Approved the goals and objectives for the Hard Clam Fishery Management Plan Amendment 3 and Eastern Oyster Fishery Management Plan Amendment 5.
- Approved the suspension of section (a) of 15A NCAC 03M .0502 MULLET and section (1) of 15A NCAC 03M .0101 MUTILATED FINIFISH to allow the Division of Marine Fisheries to continue to prohibit the possession of mullet during the closed mullet harvest season in accordance with Supplement A to the Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan Amendment 1.
- Gave final approval to readopt, repeal, and adopt 83 rules in 15A NCAC 18A pertaining to shellfish sanitation procedures under the state mandated periodic review process in G.S. 150B-21.3A.
YouTube audio recordings of the meeting are available on the Division of Marine Fisheries’ website here.