Mandatory Harvest Reporting

The North Carolina General Assembly passed Session Law 2023-137 in the fall of 2023. Section 6 of this legislation requires that any person who recreationally harvests Red Drum, Flounder, Spotted Seatrout (speckled trout), Striped Bass and Weakfish (gray trout) must report that harvest to the NC Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF). Additionally, it requires anyone holding a commercial fishing license who is engaged in a commercial fishing operation to report all fish harvested to DMF, regardless of sale.

View the Legislation

The mandatory harvest reporting requirement applies to Coastal Fishing Waters, Joint Fishing Waters and Inland Fishing Waters adjacent to Coastal and Joint Fishing Waters. Fishermen will be required, starting December 1, 2024, to report their harvest.

DMF staff, in collaboration with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC), are developing processes and reporting methods that will be used to meet this mandate. The reporting system will be funded through a one-time, $5 million allocation to DMF in SL 2023-134

DMF and WRC developed draft temporary rules to implement the mandatory reporting law. The Marine Fisheries Commission and Wildlife Resources Commission each approved these rules to go out for public comment. The public comment period closed on May 20 at 5 p.m. Learn more about each agency's proposed rules:

NC Marine Fisheries Commission Proposed Rules

NC Wildlife Resources Commission Proposed Regulations

The rules will be enforced by DMF’s Marine Patrol and the WRC’s Law Enforcement Division. Enforcement will be phased in over a period of three years.

Phase 1: Effective December 1, 2024, and includes a verbal warning for failure to report harvest. 

Phase 2: Starting December 1, 2025, warning tickets will be issued. 

Phase 3: Starting December 1, 2026, an infraction with a $35 fine. These infractions count towards suspension of fishing licenses and permits.

Check back here for updates. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Tab/Accordion Items

  • Beginning December 1, 2024, any person who recreationally harvests the following species is required to report that harvest to the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF):
    • Red Drum
    • Flounder
    • Spotted Seatrout
    • Striped Bass
    • Weakfish
  • Beginning December 1, 2024, anyone holding a commercial fishing license who is engaged in a commercial fishing operation is required to report all fish harvested to DMF, regardless of sale.

  • The N. C.commercial fishing industry has been required to report fisherman-to-dealer sales since 1994 using the N. C. Trip Ticket Program, creating a long-term census of commercial fishing landings; however, the N. C. Trip Ticket Program does not normally capture fish and shellfish that are caught while fishing commercially that are kept for personal consumption.
  • Also, for years, the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, in collaboration with the federal Marine Recreational Information Program, has surveyed recreational anglers throughout the year by mail and telephone and interviewed recreational anglers at boat ramps, beaches, and piers. These surveys ask for information such as where an angler fished, how many fish they caught, what type of gear they used, and how many fish they threw back. These data are used to produce estimates of recreational harvest. However, these data have limitations. 
  • This new law was passed by the legislature in the fall of 2023. The Division of Marine Fisheries and Wildlife Resources Commission hope that the information collected under these new reporting requirements can be used in conjunction with the existing data collection programs, to enhance fisheries management. 

  • The new law impacts both recreational and commercial fishermen.
  • Currently, recreational anglers are only required to report the harvest of billfish, swordfish, sharks and tuna. Beginning Dec. 1, 2024, recreational anglers will also be required to report the harvest of the following five species:    
    • Red Drum
    • Flounder
    • Spotted Seatrout
    • Weakfish
    • Striped Bass  
  • Currently, commercial fish dealers are required to report all fisherman-to-dealer sales of fish, shellfish, and crustaceans to the Division of Marine Fisheries through the N.C. Trip Ticket Program. Under the new law, commercial fishermen additionally will be required to report harvest that is not sold but kept for personal consumption.
  • Commercial fishermen will continue to report sales, as they currently do, using the existing trip ticket program. They will now also be required to report their personal consumption harvest through a seafood dealer.  
    • Seafood dealers will record this harvest on the trip ticket using the personal consumption disposition codes.
    • Seafood dealers who do not have the appropriate dealer license category will be allowed to write trip tickets for commercial fishermen who are harvesting catch for personal consumption by using the personal consumption disposition codes. 

No. The requirements apply to fish harvested from coastal fishing waters, joint fishing waters and inland fishing waters adjacent to coastal or joint fishing waters. In other words, the requirements apply in the coastal and joint fishing waters under the authority of the Marine Fisheries Commission and joint fishing waters and any inland fishing waters connecting to coastal or joint fishing waters under the authority of the Wildlife Resources Commission.

  • Recreational fishers will be required to report:
    • Fishing license number, or first and last name and zip code of residence.
    • Date of harvest.
    • Number of each of the five species you caught and kept.
    • Area where the fish were harvested.
    • Type of gear used (e.g., hook and line or gig).
    • You will not need to report fish you did not keep.
  • Commercial fishermen will be required to report:
    • All fish harvested, regardless of sale.
    • This includes finfish, shellfish and crustaceans.

  • Recreational fishers
    • Scan a QR code or navigate to the following URL: www.ncmarinefisheries.net.
    • You’ll use a web-based reporting system to enter your information easily and quickly.
  • Commercial fishermen
    • Continue to report sales using the trip ticket program and report any personal consumption to a seafood dealer.

You will go to the DMF website (www.ncmarinefisheries.net) and print a report card prior to your trip. If you need to report your harvest, you’ll use the report card to record your information. You will then have until midnight the day following harvest to submit your information electronically.

Recreational fishers

Harvest must be reported either electronically or on a paper report card at the time harvest is complete.

  • If fishing from a boat, this is when the fish reach the shore/dock.
  • If shore based, this is once you are no longer engaged in fishing.
Commercial fishermen

Harvest must be taken and unloaded at a seafood dealer within 48 hours of landing to be reported, even for fish that are not sold.

  • Required harvest reporting of the five species will not replace MRIP.
  • MRIP is still the best available scientific method of collecting recreational fishing information in a representative manner, and North Carolina will continue to participate in this nationally recognized data collection partnership.
  • Recreational anglers are strongly encouraged to participate in MRIP interviews, which continue to be a critical component of how our fisheries are managed.

Marine Patrol and Wildlife Enforcement Officers will enforce Mandatory Harvest Reporting during their regular patrols. The law phases in enforcement over a period of three years.

  • First phase – Effective December 1, 2024, a verbal warning will be issued for failure to report harvest.
  • Second phase – Effective December 1, 2025, a warning ticket will be issued for failure to report harvest.
  • Third phase – Effective December 1, 2026, failure to report harvest will be an infraction with a $35 fine. These infractions count towards suspension of fishing licenses and permits.

  • The new law specifically applies the recreational reporting requirement to the harvest of Red Drum, Flounder,Spotted Seatrout, Striped Bass, and Weakfish.
  • These five species are among the most targeted fish in North Carolina coastal and joint fishing waters, and inland fishing waters adjacent to coastal and joint fishing waters. 

More than a million recreational anglers – both from in-state and out-of-state -- fish in North Carolina waters each year. They take millions of fishing trips that target or catch one of these five species every year. While individual fishermen may not harvest many fish per trip, once that harvest is multiplied by the number of trips taken each year the harvest adds up quickly.  

  • State law requires that the agencies adopt temporary rules to implement mandatory reporting by December 1, 2024.
  • The requirement to report harvest is not temporary.
  • Temporary rules can be adopted more quickly than permanent rules to meet this deadline. The temporary rules will function as permanent rules until permanent rules are adopted.
  • This two-step process also provides an opportunity for the agencies to develop, implement, and try a reporting process and platform, then take the information gained from the initial phase of implementation to fine tune the requirements for the permanent rules. 

A web-based reporting tool will be used to meet the initial harvest reporting requirements that begin on December 1, 2024. DMF is exploring options for a more dynamic harvest reporting system that will continue to be easily accessed by the fishing public, but also provide the ability to store hundreds of thousands of records and allow fisheries managers to analyze the data. This will be a multi-year process.