Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with permission from the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.
MOREHEAD CITY –North Carolina will close all coastal and inland waters to commercial and recreational spotted seatrout harvest at noon Wednesday and remain closed until June 15.
N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Director Louis Daniel issued a proclamation today closing all coastal waters after cold stun events were confirmed on Friday and Saturday in several coastal rivers, bays and creeks. Cold stun events were confirmed in the Pamlico, Alligator, Pungo, Scuppernong, Trent, Neuse and Cape Fear rivers; Chocowinity, Blounts and Chadwick bays; and Slades, Bath, Cahooque, Hancock and Spooners creeks.
Under N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission rules, the spotted seatrout season automatically closes in inland waters when it closes in adjacent coastal waters.
Cold stun is a naturally occurring event. When waters cool during the winter, spotted seatrout move to deeper, warmer waters in the estuaries and ocean. But if there is a large drop in water temperature over a short period of time, the fish may be stunned or die from it.
Studies have found that cold stun events can have a significant impact on spotted seatrout populations.
Under the N.C. Spotted Seatrout Fishery Management Plan, if a significant cold stun event occurs the Division of Marine Fisheries will close all spotted seatrout harvest. The intent of the closure is to allow the fish that survive the cold stun event the maximum change to spawn in this spring. Peak spawning occurs in May.
Seafood dealers will have until Feb. 12 to dispose of unfrozen spotted seatrout taken prior to the closure.
For more specifics on the closure in coastal waters, see Proclamation FF-9-2014 at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/proclamations.
For more information, contact Chip Collier with the Division of Marine Fisheries at 910-796-7291 or Chip.Collier@ncdenr.gov.