SECTION .0300 – POTS, DREDGES, AND OTHER FISHING DEVICES
15A NCAC 03J .0301 POTS
(a) It is unlawful to use pots except during time periods and in areas specified herein:
(1) In Coastal Fishing Waters from December 1 through May 31, except that all pots shall be removed from internal waters from January 15 through February 7. Fish pots upstream of U.S. 17 Bridge across Chowan River and upstream of a line across the mouth of Roanoke, Cashie, Middle and Eastmost Rivers to the Highway 258 Bridge are exempt from the January 15 through February 7 removal requirement. The Fisheries Director may, by proclamation, reopen various waters to the use of pots after January 19 if it is determined that such waters are free of pots.
(2) From June 1 through November 30, north and east of the Highway 58 Bridge at Emerald Isle:
(A) In areas described in 15A NCAC 03R .0107(a);
(B) To allow for the variable spatial distribution of crustacea and finfish, the Fisheries Director may, by proclamation, specify time periods for or designate the areas described in 15A NCAC 03R .0107(b); or any part thereof, for the use of pots.
(3) From May 1 through November 30 in the Atlantic Ocean and west and south of the Highway 58 Bridge at Emerald Isle in areas and during time periods designated by the Fisheries Director by proclamation.
(b) It is unlawful to use pots:
(1) in any navigation channel marked by State or Federal agencies; or
(2) in any turning basin maintained and marked by the North Carolina Ferry Division.
(c) It is unlawful to use pots in a commercial fishing operation unless each pot is marked by attaching a floating buoy which shall be of solid foam or other solid buoyant material and no less than five inches in diameter and no less than five inches in length. Buoys may be of any color except yellow or hot pink or any combination of colors that include yellow or hot pink. The owner shall always be identified on the attached buoy by using engraved buoys or by engraved metal or plastic tags attached to the buoy. Such identification shall include one of the following:
(1) gear owner's current motorboat registration number; or
(2) gear owner's U.S. vessel documentation name; or
(3) gear owner's last name and initials.
(d) Pots attached to shore or a pier shall be exempt from Subparagraphs (a)(2) and (a)(3) of this Rule.
(e) It is unlawful to use shrimp pots with mesh lengths smaller than one and one‑fourth inches stretch or five‑eights inch bar.
(f) It is unlawful to use eel pots with mesh sizes smaller than one inch by one‑half inch unless such pots contain an escape panel that is at least four inches square with a mesh size of 1 inch by one-half inch located in the outside panel of the upper chamber of rectangular pots and in the rear portion of cylindrical pots, except that not more than two eel pots per fishing operation with a mesh of any size may be used to take eels for bait.
(g) It is unlawful to use crab pots in coastal fishing waters unless each pot contains no less than two unobstructed escape rings that are at least 2 5/16 inches inside diameter and located in the opposite outside panels of the upper chamber of the pot. Peeler pots with a mesh size less than 1 1/2 inches shall be exempt from the escape ring requirement. The Fisheries Director may, by proclamation, exempt the escape ring requirement in order to allow the harvest of peeler crabs or mature female crabs and may impose any or all of the following restrictions:
(1) Specify areas, and
(2) Specify time.
(h) It is unlawful to use more than 150 pots per vessel in Newport River.
(i) It is unlawful to remove crab pots from the water or remove crabs from crab pots between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise.
(j) User Conflicts:
(1) In order to address user conflicts, the Fisheries Director may by proclamation impose any or all of the following restrictions:
(A) Specify time period;
(B) Specify areas; and
(C) Specify means and methods.
The Fisheries Director shall hold a public meeting in the affected area before issuance of such proclamation.
(2) Any person(s) desiring user conflict resolution may make such request in writing addressed to the Director of the Division of Marine Fisheries. Such requests shall contain the following information:
(A) A map of the affected area including an inset vicinity map showing the location of the area with detail sufficient to permit on-site identification and location;
(B) Identification of the user conflict causing a need for user conflict resolution;
(C) Recommended solution for resolving user conflict; and
(D) Name and address of the person(s) requesting user conflict resolution.
(3) Upon the requestor's demonstration of a user conflict to the Fisheries Director and within 90 days of the receipt of the information required in Subparagraph (j)(2) of this Rule, the Fisheries Director shall issue a public notice of intent to address a user conflict. A public meeting shall be held in the area of the user conflict. The requestor shall present his or her request at the public meeting, and other parties affected may participate.
(4) The Fisheries Director shall deny the request or submit a proclamation that addresses the results of the public meeting to the Marine Fisheries Commission for their approval.
(5) Proclamations issued under Subparagraph (j)(1) of this Rule shall suspend appropriate rules or portions of rules under 15A NCAC 03R .0107 as specified in the proclamation. The provisions of 15A NCAC 03I .0102 terminating suspension of a rule as of the next Marine Fisheries Commission meeting and requiring review by the Marine Fisheries Commission at the next meeting shall not apply to proclamations issued under Subparagraph (j)(1) of this Rule.
(k) It is unlawful to use pots to take crabs unless the line connecting the pot to the buoy is non-floating.
(l) It is unlawful to use pots with leads or leaders to take shrimp. For the purpose of this Rule, leads or leaders are defined as any fixed or stationary net or device used to direct fish into any gear used to capture fish. Any device with leads or leaders used to capture fish is not a pot.
History Note: Authority G. S. 113-134; 113-173; 113-182; 113-221; 143B-289.52;
Eff. January 1, 1991;
Amended Eff. August 1, 1998; May 1, 1997; March 1, 1996; March 1, 1994; October 1, 1992; September 1, 1991;
Temporary Amendment Eff. July 1, 1999;
Amended Eff. August 1, 2000;
Temporary Amendment Eff. September 1, 2000;
Amended Eff. September 1, 2005; August 1, 2004; August 1, 2002.