MOREHEAD CITY – As of Wednesday (March 15), 69 Marine Fisheries Commission rules went into effect, including rules pertaining to marking requirements for commercial pots and trotlines; license and permit suspensions and revocations; shellfish and crustacea management and processing; recordkeeping requirements and tournament licenses; and importation permits. The rules were amended and/or readopted under a state mandated periodic review schedule.
Marking commercial pots and trotlines – A change to marking requirements for the commercial use of pots (15A NCAC 03J .0301) and commercial trotlines (15A NCAC 03J .0305) will require the gear owner’s last name and initials be identified on each buoy as a baseline. Previously, it was not specified how the owner was to be identified unless a vessel was used, and the markings were only required for trotlines when used for recreational purposes.
License and permit suspensions and revocations:
- Changes to 15A NCAC 03P .0101 provide the ability for a statement about license suspension and revocation to be sent to the Division of Marine Fisheries by electronic mail, not just via U.S. mail. Subsequent changes shorten the time period from 15 days to 10 days to reflect the flexibility electronic mail provides and to ensure timely protection of the resources under the authority of the Marine Fisheries Commission. For the protection of endangered or threatened species or a species managed by a quota, the time period is further shortened to five days, consistent with the severity of a possible violation leading to permit or license suspension or revocation.
- Changes to 15A NCAC 03O .0111 address the rare situation if the Division of Marine Fisheries issues a license in error. Proposed changes establish the authority in rule for such a license to be required to be surrendered immediately upon service by an agent of the Fisheries Director to the stakeholder to surrender the license. Existing rule 15A NCAC 03O .0110 addresses refund of any license fees in such an instance.
Shellfish and Crustacea – Changes to shellfish management areas and for protection of public health:
- Define Shellfish Management Areas, Seed Oyster Management Areas, and Oyster Sanctuaries, to assist stakeholders and Division of Marine Fisheries resource managers in differentiating between management tools and understanding the intended management strategies for each.
- Broaden the Fisheries Director’s proclamation authority to address variable conditions for the management of the different types of shellfish management areas:
- Changes to 15A NCAC 03K .0103 and .0209 allow the Fisheries Director to designate or modify boundaries of Shellfish Management Areas and Oyster Sanctuaries to address variable conditions of biological impacts or variable spatial distribution, such as shifting reef materials, and to specify marking requirements. Additional changes allow the Fisheries Director to restrict the use of fishing gears on Oyster Sanctuaries.
- Changes to 15A NCAC 03K .0208 allow the Fisheries Director to modify or close Seed Oyster Management Areas for the protection of public health or because the areas are no longer productive.
- Make it unlawful to engage in shellfish and crustacea processing without the required permits and shellfish tags.
Recordkeeping requirements and tournament licenses – Changes to 15A NCAC 03O .0101 and .0102 and to 15A NCAC 03I .0114 remove the time requirement for obtaining a tournament license and broaden the types of record keeping permissible for inspection by Marine Patrol at fish dealer locations by including electronic trip tickets.
Importation permits – Changes to 15A NCAC 03I .0104 require the sizes and quantities of species to be included in the disease-free certificate for a “Permit to Introduce, Transfer, or Hold Imported Marine and Estuarine Organisms”, not just the type of species. These changes help provide better protection of the resources.
Other rule changes are minor in that they codify regulations already in effect by proclamation or law, or correct grammar and punctuation, update agency names and make other minor technical changes.
Read the text of the rules in the March 15, 2023, Supplement to North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission Rules April 1, 2020, at https://deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/marine-fisheries/rules-proclamations-and-size-and-bag-limits/rules.