The N.C. General Assembly enacts laws, or statutes, and delegates authority to agencies to adopt rules to implement those statutes. The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission adopts rules governing activities impacting marine and estuarine resources in coastal and joint fishing waters, including the brackish waters of the State’s rivers and their tributaries, sounds and bays, and in saltwater extending out to three miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean.

Another tool the state uses to manage fisheries is the proclamation. The Marine Fisheries Commission has the authority to delegate to the fisheries director the ability to issue public notices, called proclamations, suspending or implementing particular commission rules that may be affected by variable conditions. The proclamation authority granted to the fisheries director includes the ability to open and close seasons and fishing areas, set harvest and gear limits, and establish conditions governing various fishing activities. Proclamation authority and proclamation measures are codified in rules.

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Tab/Accordion Items

July 5, 2024 Supplement to North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission Rules April 1, 2020

Recently amended rules of the Marine Fisheries Commission are found here. The supplement accompanies the April 1, 2020 publication of rules, statutes and session laws.

North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission Rules April 1, 2020

Rules of the Marine Fisheries Commission are found here along with select North Carolina general statutes and session laws. NOTE: the rulebook is incomplete without the July 5, 2024 supplement.

North Carolina General Statute 150B-21.3A, adopted in 2013, requires state agencies to review existing rules every 10 years. An initial review of all state rules will be completed within five years from adoption of the statute and thereafter, rules will be reviewed on a 10-year review cycle.

The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission develops proposed rules to comply with this statute. The commission also develops proposed rules to govern activities impacting marine and estuarine resources in coastal and joint fishing waters. This includes proposed rules to implement fishery management plans and Coastal Habitat Protection Plans. The commission also ensures the rules are clear and enforceable and consistent with other rules.

Marine Fisheries Commission Proposed Rules

Any person wishing to request the adoption, amendment or repeal of a rule of the Marine Fisheries Commission shall make the request in writing to:

Chair of the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission
P.O. Box 769
3441 Arendell Street
Morehead City, NC 28557

Items that must be included in the petition:

  1. The text of the proposed rules for adoption or amendment;
  2. A statement of the reasons for adoption or amendment of the proposed rules, or the repeal of existing rules;
  3. A statement of the effect of the requested rule changes on:
    (A) Existing rules;
    (B) Existing practices in the area involved; and
    (C) Those most likely to be affected by the requested rule changes; and
  4. The name and address of the petitioner.

The petitioner may include the following information within the request:

  1. The statutory authority for the agency to promulgate the rules;
  2. A statement of the cost factors for persons affected by the proposed rules;
  3. A statement explaining the computation of the cost factors;
  4. A description, including the names and addresses, if known, of those most likely to be affected by the proposed rules; and
  5. Documents and data supporting the proposed rules.

In its review of the proposed rules, the commission shall consider:

  1. Whether it has the authority to adopt the rules;
  2. The effect of the proposed rules on existing rules, programs, and practices;
  3. Probable costs and cost factors of the proposed rules; and
  4. The impact of the rules on the public and regulated entities.

If a petition does not contain the required information it will be returned to the petitioner.

If the petition is deemed complete by the commission chair it will be presented to the commission for its consideration and determination at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the commission.

Within 120 days following the submission of the petition requesting rulemaking the commission shall:

  1. Grant the petition in writing, notify the petitioner in writing, and initiate rulemaking proceedings; or
  2. Deny the petition in writing, stating the reason or reasons for the denial, and send the written denial to the petitioner.

If there are questions about this process, please contact the Marine Fisheries Commission Office at 252-515-5500 or 800-682-2632.

N.C. General Statute 150B-21.6 allows an agency to incorporate certain material by reference in its rules without repeating the text of the referenced material. The first part of this statute lists what material is allowed to be incorporated by reference:

G.S. 150B-21.6. Incorporating material in a rule by reference.
An agency may incorporate the following material by reference in a rule without repeating the text of the referenced material:

  1. Another rule or part of a rule adopted by the agency.
  2. All or part of a code, standard, or regulation adopted by another agency, the federal government, or a generally recognized organization or association.

The following N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission rules incorporate various Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) or United States Code (USC) by reference. A copy of the material can be obtained by clicking on the corresponding link in the table or by request to or Catherine Blum, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, NC 28557-0769, free of charge. 

MFC Rule 15A NCAC Rule Subject CFR/USC Citation (Last Date Amended) CFR/USC Subject CFR/USC Title; Regulatory Entity
03I .0110 Military danger zones and restricted areas 33 CFR 334.410 (April 10, 1997); 334.412 (May 24, 1996); 334.420 (May 24, 2011); 334.430 (July 18, 2008); 334.440 (March 21, 2001); 334.450 (Aug. 31, 2010) Danger Zone and Restricted Area Regulations Title 33:  Navigation and Navigable Waters; Corps of Engineers, Department of the Army, Department of Defense
03K .0110(b)     
Public health and control of shellfish
21 CFR 123.3 (Sept. 17, 2015), 123.6-9 (Dec. 18, 1997), 123.11 (Sept. 17, 2015), 123.28 (Dec. 18, 1997)
Definitions; Hazard Analysis and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan; Corrective Actions; Verification; Records; Sanitation Control Procedures; Source Controls Title 21: Food and Drugs; Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services
03L .0103(h) Turtle excluder device requirements in shrimp trawls 50 CFR 222.102 (Feb. 9, 2015); 223.205(a) (Feb. 9, 2015); 223.206(d) (Aug. 1, 2021); 223.207 (Aug. 1, 2021) Definitions; Sea Turtles; Exceptions to Prohibitions Relating to Sea Turtles; Approved Turtle Excluder Devices Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries; National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce
03O .0503(d)(2)(D) Coastal Recreational Fishing License Exemption Permit U.S. Code 42 38T§ 12511 (Jan. 7, 2011) Definition of “disadvantaged youth” Title 42: The Public Health and Welfare; National and Community Service
18A .0157(d)(4) Facility and Equipment Sanitation 21 CFR 178.1010 (March 16, 1977) Sanitizing Solutions     
Title 21: Food and Drugs; Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services

(Updated 8/2/21)