Commercial Fishing

Fish and Wildlife Service worker on boat checking gill net full of fish
Pedro Ramirez, Jr. / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

It's the height of commercial flounder season along the North Carolina Coast, but gillnet fishing boats have been banned from heading out. That's because a large number of sea turtles are still swimming in those areas.

The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries has temporarily closed areas in four Northeastern sounds and southern coastal waters to the fisheries. The agency was uncomfortable with the number of interactions fishing boats were having with endangered sea turtles since September.

A picture of the Bonner Bridge over the Oregon Inlet.
Vbofficial / Wikipedia

A new bill introduced in the North Carolina Senate would allow the state to offer to buy or trade the federal government for the Oregon Inlet.

The Department of Interior took over ownership of the waterway in 1958. It charges the Army Corps of Engineers with dredging there -- being that it's an important access point for commercial fishermen and boat builders.

But state Representative Bill Cook said the feds rarely put up enough money to manage shoaling in the Oregon Inlet.

Fisherman catches Red Drum of the NC Coast
Flickr user, creative commons

A controversial House bill that would cut off commercial catching of certain types of fish was the subject of public debate Monday.   Lawmakers would reclassify red drum, speckled trout and striped bass as game fish - only caught by recreational fishermen - if House Bill 983 becomes law.

Sorting the sea scallop catch on the NC coast
www.fishwatch.gov

For the first time since 2006, fishermen along North Carolina's southeastern coast can go after bay scallops in Bogue Sound.  A moratorium on the mollusks has been lifted in that area and the inner coastal waters to the South Carolina line.  The state imposed the ban because of declining populations seven years ago.

Dredging crews are set to survey the Oregon Inlet again this morning after they suspended operations due to shallow waters. Officials with the U-S Army Corps of Engineers say strong winds brought more sand into the inlet last week. That prevents crews from using their side-casting dredge. Bob Sattin is the cheif operator for the Army Corps of Engineers in Wilmington:

Injured pelican
Toni O'Neil

Dead and injured pelicans are washing up on North Carolina shores. Around 20 dead birds were found on North Topsail Beach earlier this month. Many had severely broken wings.

Asian Tiger Shrimp
James Morris/NOAA

Scientists are keeping a close eye on North Carolina's shrimp population as fishermen see more of an invasive species known as tiger shrimp. Fishermen have reported catching more than 200 this season. That's up from an average of 10 to 20 since 2008. James Morris is an ecologist with NOAA's Center for Coastal Fisheries and Habitat Research in Beaufort. He says more tiger shrimp could mean a smaller catch for North Carolina's traditional shrimpers.