| Report on the alternative platform observer program in North Carolina, January 2007 to May 2009 - :8646 | National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
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Report on the alternative platform observer program in North Carolina, January 2007 to May 2009
  • Published Date:
    2009
Filetype[PDF - 360.10 KB]


Details:
  • Corporate Authors:
    Southeast Fisheries Center (U.S.), Beaufort Laboratory,
  • Description:
    In February 2006, an Alternative Platform Observer Program (APOP) was implemented in North Carolina (NC) to observe commercial gillnet trips by small vessels (<7.3 m) in nearshore waters out to 5.6 km. The primary focus of the APOP was to document any marine mammal bycatch in the fishery. This report summarizes APOP effort in 2007 and 2008, corrects fishing effort information in the 2006 report, and provides APOP trip information from January through May 2009. During 2007, the APOP observed 35 small vessel and 11 large vessel ocean gillnet trips targeting six species: kingfish (Menticirrhus spp.), Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus maculatus), spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias), spot (Leiostomus xanthurus), striped bass (Morone saxatilis), and striped mullet (Mugil cephalus); two small vessel inshore gillnet trips were also observed targeting southern flounder (Paralichthys lethostigma). The small vessel ocean trips represented 3.0% (monthly range, 0.0% to 8.0%) of gillnet trips in state ocean waters reported by North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (NCDMF) for small vessels not landing striped bass and 0.7% of striped bass trips. Of the 48 total trips, 23 (47.9%) were with vessels that had not previously carried a federal observer. The APOP observed 46 ocean trips compared to 218 ocean trips observed by the Northeast Fishery Observer Program (NEFOP) in NC, resulting in an overall increase of 21.1% in the number of observed gillnet trips. In 2008, the APOP observed 29 small vessel and 20 large vessel ocean gillnet trips targeting five species: king mackerel (Scomberomorus cavalla), kingfish, Spanish mackerel, spot, and striped bass. Two additional trips were observed in state inshore waters targeting southern flounder. The small vessel ocean trips represented 3.6% (monthly range, 0.0% to 11.1%) of gillnet trips in state ocean waters reported by NCDMF for small vessels not landing striped bass and 0.9% of striped bass trips. The APOP also observed 20 striped bass beach-seine trips. Of the 51 gillnet trips, 22 (43.1%) were with vessels new to the program. In 2008, the APOP observed 49 ocean trips compared to 124 ocean trips observed by the NEFOP, providing an overall increase of 39.5% in the number of observed gillnet trips. In 2009, the APOP observed 8 trips during its five months of activity. The Database of Fishermen (DOF) increased by 67 in 2007 and 29 in 2008; the total number of entries in the DOF at the end of 2008 was 214. There were no new contacts added in 2009. No incidental takes of marine mammals or sea turtles were observed during APOP observations. However, 16 sea birds were observed entangled during 2008 and four were documented in 2009, including the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), Common Loon (Gavia immer), Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax aritus), Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus), and Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata). Marine mammals and sea turtles were seen in the vicinity of gear and there was evidence of depredation of fish in gillnets by bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and a loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta). Overall, the APOP successfully increased observer coverage in North Carolina, and maybe more importantly, added coverage of a sector of the fishery previously underrepresented by the traditional observer coverage.

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