Marine Fisheries Commission postpones vote on shrimp plan, August meeting shifts to virtual

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The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will meet by web conference on Wednesday and Thursday, rather than in-person, based on current guidance to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

“With the increasing spread of the Delta variant across North Carolina, and some that have received the vaccine still contracting it, there is a legitimate concern regarding public safety when participating in a large-scale meeting such as ours,” said Commission Chairman Rob Bizzell. “With this in mind, we will have this upcoming meeting virtually.”

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. on Aug. 25 and 9 a.m. on Aug. 26.

Additionally, the discussion and votes on the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan (FMP) Amendment 2 that were scheduled for this meeting will be delayed until the November meeting.

“I feel that the discussion on the Shrimp FMP needs to be in person to completely and fairly provide an opportunity for the public to voice their thoughts and concerns,” Bizzell said. “Hopefully within the next three months, vaccination rates will improve and the spread of Covid will be controlled so we can safely meet in person.”

The public may listen to the meeting by phone or listen and view presentations online. For links to join the meeting, go to the Marine Fisheries Commission Meeting webpage. Following the meeting, an audio recording will be posted online.

Agenda items include:

  • Approving the Draft Coastal Habitat Protection Plan 2021 Amendment for public comment and advisory committee review.
  • Adopting the five-year fishery management plan schedule.
  • Establishing the annual cap on the number of commercial fishing licenses available through the Eligibility Pool.
  • Approving notice of text to begin the re-adoption process of 109 rules and give final approval for the re-adoption of nine rules in 15A NCAC 03Q .0100 for the subject “General Regulations: Joint” under a mandatory periodic review schedule (G.S. 150B-21.3A).
  • Discussing and a possibly voting on further development of options to modify small mesh gill net rules.
  • Electing a vice chairman.
  • Receiving a presentation on the division’s annual Stock Overview Report.
  • Hearing an update on the development of the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan Amendment 3.

Members of the public may submit comments to the commission in three ways:

  1. Sign Up to Speak at the Meeting — Public comment will be accepted beginning at 6p.m. at the Aug. 25 session, and a 30-minute public comment period is scheduled near the beginning of the meeting on Aug. 26. Those who wish to speak during one of the comment periods are required to preregister by 5 p.m., Aug. 23. To accommodate as many speakers as possible and to facilitate the meeting, the chairman may limit the time each speaker may comment. Click here to register to speak. Those making comments will be asked to speak only once, either at the Aug. 25 or the Aug. 26 session, but not during both public comment periods.
  2. Submit Online Comments – Public comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Aug. 23 through an online form. Click here to submit comments online.
  3. Mail Comments – Written comments may be mailed to August 2021 Marine Fisheries Commission Meeting Comments, P.O Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557. Comments must be received by the division by 5 p.m. on Aug. 23.

The Marine Fisheries Commission Office will not accept public comment for this meeting through email.

A full meeting agenda, briefing book materials, and web conference links and call-in numbers are posted on the Marine Fisheries Commission Meetings webpage.

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.