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Where was the Spot Run this year?

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    Posted: 23 November 2021 at 10:36am
Spot...It's a "cycle" thing, right? Wrong.

Until inshore trawling in the Pamlico Sound and nearshore SHAs are addressed spot will continue to decline. There will be years of greater abundance when the stars align and a sweet spot is hit. We may see that next year or the following year. Lower brown shrimp abundance in the Pamlico Sound last year and this year anecdotally appear to have reduced some trawl effort. Maybe a few more spot will make it offshore to spawn this winter. The long term trend is down and it will continue to decline as long as trawling is allowed in strategic habitat areas- undesignated nursery areas.

For the naysayers who say "But, Virginia doesn't allow trawling and its spot population is declining also." Spot migrate south along the beaches (that's the run) before heading offshore for the winter. Virginia spot, gray trout and croaker have to get past this gauntlet-



In 2015, the MFC voted to pass Amendment 1 to the Shrimp FMP requiring that the industry develop gear to reduce bycatch by 40%. Contrary to what the division and industry claim, the 40% reduction didn't happen.

The industry led trials dumbed-down the control net to increase bycatch from around 3.5-to-1 to 6.3-to-1 by deceasing the tail bag mesh size to 1-1/2". They "tested" gear using a 1-3/4" tail bag, which was the industry standard already being used at the time. The "test" gear "reduced" bycatch to roughly 3.6-to-1, exactly what the industry had been doing for years. The reduction was false. There was no reduction in bycatch.





The MFC voted last week at the Nov-2021 Business meeting on the management measures under Shrimp FMP Amendment 2.  The measures have been sent to the Secretary for approval and then final adoption at the February 2022 MFC meeting.

The division spent significant time analyzing Pamlico Sound juvenile abundance data to help develop recommendations to the MFC for Amendment 2. The division's P195 trawl surveys conducted in June and September were used to develop "Hot Spot" analysis identifying areas in the Pamlico Sound that contain high concentrations of juvenile finfish.

Below is that hot spot analysis by species- June Survey is Yellow. September Survey is Purple.


























The division mapped aggregate finfish and shrimp for the two trawl surveys- June and September:










Using the above hot spot analysis, the division presented to the Shrimp Advisory Committee the idea of a permanent Pamlico Sound closure line that would run from Oregon Inlet to Point of Grass at Cedar Island. Everything West of that line would be permanently closed to trawling.







To help protect the key weakfish nursery areas North of Bluff Shoal, the division presented to the AC the idea of a seasonal closure line. Waters North of that line would close to trawling on August 15th.





The above is sound analysis with reasonable action to protect juvenile nursery areas.

In the end, the division ignored all of its own hot spot analysis and recommended to the MFC no action to reduce trawling in the Pamlico Sound. The reason given was:




In the end, the division recommended a permanent closure line for the rivers and a few Western Bays of the sound, which is shown below. I have also included the division's river closure line and the AC permanent and seasonal closure lines on the hot spot analysis by species posted above.

Please note that the division's proposed Western Bay closure areas had little to any Hot Spots data plots.







At last week's Nov-2021 Quarterly Business Meeting, the MFC voted to ignore the division's recommendation and basically maintain status quo.

https://deq.nc.gov/news/press-releas...-approves-chpp


MOREHEAD CITY
Nov 19, 2021The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission selected their preferred management options for the draft Shrimp Fishery Management Plan Amendment 2 during their November business meeting. The goal of the shrimp plan amendment is to further reduce bycatch of non-target species and minimize ecosystem impacts.

The commission selected options to permanently close all trawling in crab sanctuaries; to prohibit trawling in Bogue Sound and its tributaries except for the Intracoastal Waterway; and prohibit trawling in the Carolina Yacht Basin, except for the Intracoastal Waterway. However, it did not go forward with proposed regional area closures that would have prohibited trawling in most estuarine waters except for Pamlico Sound.

The commission also chose management options to:
  • Eliminate the four quarts (heads on) and two and one-half quarts (heads off) recreational creel limit for cast nets in areas closed to the taking of shrimp.
  • Change the flexible opening date in all Special Secondary Nursery Areas to a static Sept. 1 each year.
  • Continue collaboration with the commercial stakeholder groups through the industry workgroup to identify and test gear modifications to further reduce bycatch in the shrimp fishery.
  • Provide for adaptive management for future action to address issues related to submerged aquatic vegetation identified through Division of Marine Fisheries collaboration with the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan support staff, the Habitat and Water Quality Advisory Committee, and stakeholder groups.
  • Maintain existing headrope limits for shrimp trawls in internal coastal waters but allow for additional headrope restrictions to be implemented to resolve user conflicts.
  • Request the division collaborate with the CHPP staff and the Habitat and Water Quality Advisory Committee on issues related to habitat. As the division deems appropriate and feasible, actions to address that impact will be identified by the appropriate committees and brought to the commission for action as part of adaptive fisheries management.


The draft shrimp plan amendment now goes for review by the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality and legislative committees before coming back to the commission for final adoption in February.

Also this week, the commission gave final approval to the Coastal Habitat Protection Plan 2021 Amendment. The CHPP is a long-term strategy to improve coastal fisheries through habitat protection and enhancement efforts. The CHPP amendment has already been approved by the Environmental Management Commission and the Coastal Resources Commission. It provides information on habitat distribution and abundance, ecological functions and importance to fish production, status and trends, and threats to the habitats, and includes recommendations to address those threats.



The video below shows shrimp trawling in the Pamlico Sound. Nothing has changed since this video was filmed by the crew of the Birdie P. While the industry will claim a 40% reduction in bycatch as a result of gear modifications identified in the 2015, '16 and '17 trials, the data does not support that claim.

Click on the direct link below if the video doesn't show in it's own window.  Sometimes the video feature on this site becomes inoperable. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLl4GSZLqGU




The votes last week for status quo and against the resource were-
Commercial Seat- Romano
Commercial Seat- Cross
Commercial Seat- Blanton
At-Large Seat- Hendrickson
At-Large Seat- Posey

Those voting against status quo and for the resource:
Recreational Seat- Bizzell
Recreational Seat- Roller
Recreational Seat- McNeil
Science Seat- Kornegay


Edited by Rick - 23 November 2021 at 1:46pm
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NC Fisheries Management- Motto: Too Little, Too Late, Too Bad   Slogan: Shrimp On! Mission Statement: Enable Commercial Fishing At Any and All Cost, Regardless of Impact to the Resource.
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TomM View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TomM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 November 2021 at 1:32pm
I think last spot run. Was 2005 and it was minor 
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