N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries issues proclamations that close striped bass season

EASTERN CAROLINA, (WITN) - N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has issued proclamations that close striped bass season for commercial and recreational fishermen in all internal waters from just south of Oregon Inlet to the South Carolina line.

Both commercial and recreational fishermen across the state could find themselves heavily impacted as the result of a new fishing ban passed at the special meeting Wednesday in Kinston.

The commission passed a motion by a vote of 5-4 to ban the use of gill nets above what are known as the ferry lines, in areas of the Pamlico and Neuse Rivers.

Joe Albea with Outdoor Communications said, "Decisions like this are hard to take, I admit it. But it's across the board, everyone's going to be affected by it."

The commission did not require all large mesh gill nets be removed from the affected waters. Instead, the group voted to order a year-round 36-inch tie-down and 50-yard distance from shore requirement that will take effect for gill nets in the western Pamlico Sound, including the Tar-Pamlico and Neuse Rivers and their tributaries.

Wednesday's emergency meeting was a follow-up to a meeting held back in February where a no-possession limit was put into place, which is essentially a closed-season for both commercial and recreational fishermen in Central Southern Management Area (CSMA) waters.

The CSMA encompasses all internal waters from just south of Oregon Inlet to the South Carolina line. The waters impacted include the Pamlico and Core Sounds and the Tar, Pamlico, Pungo, Bay, Neuse and White Oak Rivers and their tributaries.

According to NC Marine Fisheries Director Steve Murphey, the focus of the ban is on the protection of two successful year classes of striped bass in those waters, but the impact will be felt throughout the state.

Murphey said, "To me, on a resource issue like this, you have to look long-term and the health of the resource."

According to Marine Fisheries, esearch has shown that striped bass in the Central Southern Management Area are not a self-sustaining population and that fishermen are mainly catching hatchery-raised fish.

The proclamations mean recreational anglers and commercial fishermen cannot possess any striped bass, essentially a year-round closure, in coastal waters managed by the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission.

The closure does not impact striped bass fishing in the Atlantic Ocean, Albemarle Sound Management Area, Roanoke River Management Area and inland waters under the sole jurisdiction of the N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission