Various North Carolina fishing statutes, rules, and proclamations apply only in the Atlantic Ocean. The Division of Marine Fisheries uses as the boundary between the Atlantic Ocean and the inside sounds a federally designated line. This line delineates "International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea" (COLREGS Lines of Demarcation) which were established by the Coast Guard to designate where "International Rules of the Road" separate from "U.S. Inland Rules". Individual lines were established where practical, by physical objects like fixed aids to navigation or prominent points of land, because they are readily discernable by eye rather than by instruments. Following is the actual wording from the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) that describes these lines for North Carolina inlets.
[Code of Federal Regulations]
[Title 33, Volume 1, Parts 1 to 124]
[Revised as of July 1, 1999]
From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
TITLE 33-NAVIGATION AND NAVIGABLE WATERS
CHAPTER I-COAST GUARD, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
PART 80-COLREGS DEMARCATION LINES
Sec. 80.01 General basis and purpose of demarcation lines.
(a) The regulations in this part establish the lines of demarcation delineating those waters upon which mariners shall comply with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972 (72 COLREGS) and those water upon which mariners shall comply with the Inland Navigation Rules.
(b) The waters inside of the lines are Inland Rules waters. The waters outside the lines are COLREGS waters.
(c) Geographic coordinates expressed in terms of latitude or longitude, or both, are not intended for plotting on maps or charts whose referenced horizontal datum is the North American Datum of 1983 (NAD 83), unless such geographic coordinates are expressly labeled NAD 83. Geographic coordinates without the NAD 83 reference may be plotted on maps or charts referenced to NAD 83 only after application of the appropriate corrections that are published on the particular map or chart being used.
[CGD 82-029, 47 FR 19519, May 6, 1982, as amended by CGD 83-003, 48 FR 7442, Feb. 18, 1983; CGD 86-082, 52 FR 33810, Sept. 8, 1987]
Sec. 80.515 Cape Henry, VA to Cape Hatteras, NC
(a) A line drawn from Rudee Inlet Jetty Light 2 to Rudee Inlet Jetty Light 1.
(b) A line formed by the centerline of the highway bridge across Oregon Inlet.
Sec. 80.520 Cape Hatteras, NC to Cape Lookout, NC
(a) A line drawn from Hatteras Inlet Lookout Tower at latitude 35 deg.11.8' N. longitude 75 deg.44.9' W. 255 deg. true to the eastern end of Ocracoke Island.
(b) A line drawn from the westernmost extremity of Ocracoke Island at latitude 35 deg.04.0' N. longitude 76 deg.00.8' W. to the northeastern extremity of Portsmouth Island at latitude 35 deg.03.7' N. longitude 76 deg.02.3' W.
(c) A line drawn across Drum Inlet parallel with the general trend of the highwater shoreline.
Sec. 80.525 Cape Lookout, NC to Cape Fear, NC
(a) A line drawn from Cape lookout Light to the seaward tangent of the southeastern end of Shackleford Banks.
(b) A line drawn from Morehead City Channel Range Front Light to the seaward extremity of the Beaufort Inlet west jetty.
(c) A line drawn from the southernmost extremity of Bogue Banks at latitude 34 deg.38.7' N. longitude 77 deg.06.0' W. across Bogue Inlet to the northernmost extremity of Bear Beach at latitude 34 deg.38.5' N. longitude 77 deg.07.1' W.
(d) A line drawn from the southeasternmost extremity on the southwest side of New River Inlet at latitude 34 deg.31.5' N. longitude 77 deg.20.6' W. to the seaward tangent of the shoreline on the northeast side on New River Inlet.
(e) A line drawn across New Topsail Inlet between the closest extremities of the shore on either side of the inlet from latitude 34 deg.20.8' N. longitude 77 deg.39.2' W. to latitude 34 deg.20.6' N. longitude 77 deg.39.6' W.
(f) A line drawn from the seaward extremity of the jetty on the northeast side of Masonboro Inlet to the seaward extremity of the jetty on the southeast side of the Inlet.
(g) Except as provided elsewhere in this section from Cape Lookout to Cape Fear, lines drawn parallel with the general trend of the highwater shoreline across the entrance of small bays and inlets.
Sec. 80.530 Cape Fear, NC to Little River Inlet, SC
(a) A line drawn from the abandoned lighthouse charted in approximate position latitude 33 deg.52.4' N. longitude 78 deg.00.1' W. across the Cape Fear River Entrance to Oak Island Light.
(b) Except as provided elsewhere in this section from Cape Fear to Little River Inlet, lines drawn parallel with the general trend of the highwater shoreline across the entrance to small inlets