May 17, 2011

NC Division of Marine Fisheries Reminds Fisherman to Avoid Contact with Sea Turtles

MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is reminding fishermen that as temperatures warm, sea turtles return to North Carolina waters, and both commercial and recreational fishermen should avoid interaction with them.

Division staff has sighted sea turtles in the ocean off Cape Lookout, Beaufort Inlet, Topsail Island, Oak Island and Long Beach. In addition, sea turtles have been observed in inside waters of the Intracoastal Waterway near Oak Island and in Core Sound.

“It is likely that sea turtles are moving into other waters,” said Louis Daniel, director of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries. “Commercial fishermen setting nets and recreational anglers bottom fishing should be aware of this.”

All sea turtles found in North Carolina waters are listed as either threatened or endangered species. Therefore, it is illegal to harm them in any way.

Information on how recreational anglers can skillfully release a turtle to reduce sea turtle injury and to promote post-release survival can be found on the division’s website at http://www.ncfisheries.net/fisheye/2010FishEyeNews/2010_SeaturtlesBiteHook.html.

Commercial fishermen should adhere to sea turtle release protocols from the National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Fisheries Science Center, which can be found at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sf/pdfs/2008%20Updated%20Sea%20Turtle%20Release%20Protocols.pdf

Whether recreational or commercial, any fisherman that catches a sea turtle should release it unharmed, if possible. If the turtle is lethargic or comatose, call one of the following numbers to arrange transport of the sea turtle to a rehabilitation center:

Statewide
• N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Sea Turtles Stranding Hotline at (252) 241-7367
•N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries at 1-800-682-2632

Outer Banks Area Only
• Network for Endangered Sea Turtles (NEST) at (252) 441-8622
•Outer Banks Marine Mammal Response Team at (252) 455-9654

The Division of Marine Fisheries is continuing regulatory restrictions and observer coverage of large-mesh gill nets, in accordance with a sea turtle lawsuit settlement.

For more information, contact the division’s Protected Resources section chief Red Munden at (252) 808-8009 or Red.Munden@ncdenr.gov, or Protected Resources biologist Brian Conrad (252) 808-8061 or Brian.Conrad@ncdenr.gov

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