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.
The Fisheries Director may, by proclamation authority established in 15A NCAC 03L .0201, further restrict the use of pots to take blue crabs.
(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 that 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. The identification shall include one of the following:
(1) gear owner's current motorboat registration number;
(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-eighths-inch bar.
(f) It is unlawful to use pots to take eels with mesh lengths smaller than one-half inch by one-half inch, except until January 1, 2017 eel pots of any mesh length with an escape panel that is at least four inches square with a mesh length of one 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 shall be allowed.
(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 two and five-sixteenths inches inside diameter and located in the opposite outside panels of the upper chamber of the pot, except the following are exempt from the escape ring requirements:
(1) unbaited pots;
(2) pots baited with a male crab; and
(3) pots set in areas and during time periods described in 15A NCAC 03R .0118.
(h) The Fisheries Director may, by proclamation, exempt the escape ring requirements described in Paragraph (g) of this Rule in order to allow the harvest of mature female crabs and may impose any or all of the following restrictions:
(1) specify time;
(2) specify area;
(3) specify means and methods;
(4) specify seasons; and
(5) specify quantity.
(i) It is unlawful to use more than 150 crab pots per vessel in Newport River.
(j) 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.
(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 shall not be a pot.
History Note: Authority G.S. 113-134; 113-173; 113-182; 113-221.1; 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. May 1, 2015; April 1, 2014; September 1, 2005; August 1, 2004; August 1, 2002.