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Beverly Eaves Perdue, Governor Dee Freeman, Secretary

N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Release: Immediate Contact: Patricia Smith
Date: Jan. 20, 2011 Phone: (252) 726-7021 or (252) 342-0642

Overloaded Fishing Net Causes Striped Bass Spill

MOREHEAD CITY – An overloaded fishing net prompted fishermen on a commercial trawler to release thousands of striped bass they caught Saturday off of Bodie Island.

After towing through a school of striped bass, fishermen on the commercial trawler Jamie Lynn found the net was so full it was too heavy to bring onto the boat. In order to retrieve the net, the fishermen had to open it and release the fish, the boat captain said.

The boat captain estimated 3,000 to 4,000 fish were released from the net. Many recreational and commercial fishermen picked up the discarded fish. When Marine Patrol officers arrived on the scene, there were approximately 250 dead fish.

The incident occurred Saturday afternoon.

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries confirmed the specifics of the event through an eyewitness account and an interview with the boat captain.

Staff with the division is still investigating the incident but has been unable to confirm reports that commercial trawl fishermen were high-grading. High-grading occurs when a fisherman discards a previously-caught, legal-sized fish in order to keep a larger fish within the daily possession limit. While high-grading is not illegal, it is not an ethical fishing practice and the division does not condone it.

For this reason, the division plans to implement management measures designed to limit discard mortality when it reopens the striped bass trawl fishery for three days beginning Monday.

The division will replace the current 50-fish-per-day commercial trip limit, which has been in place for 15 years, with a 2,000-pound-per-day trip limit. To avoid the need to throw back dead fish, commercial fishermen will be allowed to transfer trip limits to other fishing vessels that hold a striped bass ocean fishing permit for the commercial trawl fishery. The transfers must be made in the ocean.

The new regulations will be implemented by a proclamation that will be released Friday.

The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will review these actions at its Feb. 11 meeting in Pine Knoll Shores.

The division opens and closes North Carolina’s commercial ocean striped bass fishery and sets trip limits under a quota system set out in the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is a compact of 15 East Coast states that manages migratory fish in state waters (within three miles from shore).

North Carolina’s share of the coast-wide commercial ocean striped bass annual quota is 480,480 pounds. It is split evenly between three commercial fisheries: the trawl fishery, the gill net fishery and the beach seine fishery. Approximately 110,000 pounds remains of the 160,160-pound quota for the trawl fishery this year. This is the first time in several years that N.C. commercial fishermen have come close to catching their quota.

Discards are a part of all fisheries, and the division strives to implement measures that minimize waste in all the fisheries it manages.

According to a 2010 Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission report, coast-wide commercial landings of striped bass in 2008 totaled more than a million fish; commercial discards were estimated at 395,400 fish. Coast-wide recreational landings in 2008 totaled more than 2 million fish. Recreational discards were estimated at more than a million fish.

Estimated discards are factored into stock assessments, and the most recent stock assessment for striped bass found that the species is healthy.

It is incumbent upon all fishermen – commercial and recreational – to use common sense in the way they fish. Commercial trawl fishermen should limit their tow times to avoid overburdened nets. Recreational fishermen should practice ethical angling techniques. Fishing responsibly today will help ensure there will be fish in the future.
 

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what a load of ****,"Recreational discards were estimated at more than a million fish" BS, in MD there is a no cull regulation and now with the use of circle hooks most of the C&R fish caught have a very high survival rate. i dont know where these guys get there info. but it must come in a large envelope. how did this turn on the recreational fishermen any way we are limited and regulated up to our eyebrows already and 99% of us stick to those regs. even charter boat capts. should be out raged by the trawlers slaughter as it reflects on their income directly.
 

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Wait a minute. The trawler was supposedly highgrading and dumped the fish. Yet, they are now to being rewarded with a higher daily transfer rate from 50 fish to 2000lbs of stripers. Give me a break, what horse s _ _ _! If the rules are developed that way, it is no wonder the commercial fishery bends the rules. I agree, in Maryland there is a no cull rule. Oh yea, let me as a recreational fisherman, get caught culling. I'll get stung with a stiff fine. How do they come up with those comparisons of discards. These are supposed to be professionals, who manage the fisheries. It is outright poor management like this, which led to the moritorium on striped bass in the 1980s. We wouldn't have these problems if striped bass were declared a sportfish by the states along the Atlantic coast. It is actions like this which highlight the need for sportfish status of striped bass among the Atlantic states. If the striped bass were given sportfish status, we would not have this sort of problem. Look at the success of the redfish and snook fisheries in the south, when those species were given sportfish status. The states would make up any supposed lost income in increased sportfishing revenues. As sportfisherman we are given no credit for economic activity. It now seems we are saddled with a bogus million pound discard rate. I agree, what BS. This has got to change. It is only we as recreational fisherman who can protect and save our fisheries.
 

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its the same bad science that closed the sea bass season and keeps the dogfish protected. the problem with the fisherie is the state govs not just NC but Va and the rest. the big comm. compinaies have them in their pockets. i wonder how long the fisheries would last if no one bought wild rock in resturants and grocriey stores.
 

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I agree, I never buy striped bass ((rodkfish) at a seafood store or at a restaurant, for that very reason. That is my own little protest, which has been going on since the moritorium was lifted. When the moritorium was lifted, that was the occasion when stripers should have been given sportfish status. The plunder never seems to end.
 
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