The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Commission voted Thursday to keep its state-waters cobia fishery open past a federally-ordered June 20 closing, putting the state in non-compliance with the South Atlantic Marine Fisheries Council.
But the commission made several drastic changes to size and bag limits, and severely cut the number of days that recreational anglers could keep the coveted species.
From May 23 to Sept. 30, charter boats will be able to fish every day with a four-fish limit per boat, with each fish measuring at least 37 inches. Pier and surf anglers also can fish every day, with one 37-inch minimum fish per person per day.
Recreational private boaters, however, will be able to keep fish only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. The limit will be two fish of at least 37 inches per boat.
Catch-and-release action is allowed, but closing the season on Sept. 30 will effectively end the fall portion of the fishery.
In federal waters past the state line of three miles, the closure will be from June 20 through the end of the year.
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission will make its decision about whether to go non-compliant Tuesday at its Newport News office.
Lee Tolliver, 757-222-5844, email@example.com