RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) – The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries is starting its public scoping period about spotted seatrout management options.  

The first of four meetings across North Carolina took place in Raleigh on Tuesday night. The organization is looking for feedback on how to deal with the spotted seatrout because there is overfishing happening with the species.  

The current rules in place allow recreational anglers to keep four of the fish a day and commercial fishermen up to 75.  

“The spotted sea trout are actually one of the most heavily targeted fish in the entire state of North Carolina actually goes for most of the eastern seaboard,” said Marine Fisheries Biologist, Lucas Pensinger. 

The NCDMF discovered overfishing was taking place after a stock assessment was done for the species in October of 2022. Now, it’s time for them to act to stop it. 

“We do the stock assessment. And we use that to update our Fishery Management Plan or FMP. The Fishery Management Plan is simply the rules and the measures that we use in order to make sure that the stock is healthy,” said Pensinger. 

In order to move forward with this, they need to hear from the public.  

“The whole point of this public scoping is to take some potential management strategies and hear public input on them. So, we have some ideas of what might reduce overfishing. And we want to hear the public’s input on those ideas,” said Pensinger. 

One resident said they were planning on attending the Raleigh meeting.  

“We want to make sure that the division knows that the fishing public is engaged in is going to be a part of this, this process will want to remind them that these are public trust resources that belong to the people of North Carolina,” said the Executive Director for the Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina, David Sneed. 

The Division said they will take potential plans based on the results from the meetings and present them to the Marine Fisheries Commission in May.  

“We put that plan in front of the commission and say, ‘this is what we recommend.’ Ultimately, it’s their job to adopt that plan. And then once they adopt the plan, whatever management option they adopt, we [will] work on implementing management measures,” said Pensinger. 

The next three meetings with be in Barco (Thursday), New Bern (March 21) and Wilmington (March 23). Click here for more information about the issue and where you can attend virtually or mail feedback.