N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission wraps up the three-day quarterly meeting

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EMERALD ISLE N.C. (WNCT) – The three-day quarterly business meeting for N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission has officially wrapped up.

Patricia Smith with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries told 9OYS that the commission was asked to come up with a Fishery Management Plan to help reduce finfish bycatch in shrimp trawling and protect marine habitats.

The division brought forward Amendment 2 for the plan during the meeting. The commission voted on its plan preference Thursday. The original division plan suggested that almost 69,000 acres be prohibited from shrimp trawling. Pamlico Sound would essentially be the only water open for shrimp trawling.

There was a public input session throughout the three-day meeting, so shrimpers could come to voice their concerns. The original 69,000-acre closure would leave lots of local shrimpers out of business.

After public input and commission discussion, the commission voted to close around only 10,000 acres, including the crab trawl sanctuaries, Bogue Inlet except for the intercoastal waterway, and the Carolina Yacht Basin except for the intercoastal waterway.

The vote was 5-3 with one abstention.

“You don’t want to catch unwanted juvenile fish, that can grow up to be, you know a spawn. Habitat is so important. People don’t think about that but it’s actually important for the life of fish,” Smith said.

The revised, preferred plan will be reviewed by the department and will come back to the Marine Fisheries Commission in February for their final say.

Some other topics discussed over the three-day meeting was a vote for the Coastal Carolina Habitat Protection Plan 2021 Amendment, which is now officially adopted, and the Southern Flounder Amendment is now open for public comment, which will be announced shortly.

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