Coastal, Joint, and Inland Fishing Waters are designated by the Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) and Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC). The dividing lines between these waters are mutually agreed upon and detailed in Rules jointly adopted by the Commissions.
§ 113-129 (4) Coastal Fishing Waters. – The Atlantic Ocean; the various coastal sounds; and estuarine waters up to the dividing line between coastal fishing waters and inland fishing waters agreed upon by the Marine Fisheries Commission and the Wildlife Resources Commission. Except as provisions in this Subchapter or changes in the agreement between the Marine Fisheries Commission and the Wildlife Resources Commission may make such reference inapplicable, all references in statutes, regulations, contracts, and other legal or official documents to commercial fishing waters apply to coastal fishing waters.
§ 113-129 (9) Inland Fishing Waters. – Inland Fishing Waters. - All inland waters except private ponds; and all waters connecting with or tributary to coastal sounds or the ocean extending inland or upstream from:
a. The dividing line between coastal fishing waters and inland fishing waters agreed upon by the Marine Fisheries Commission and the Wildlife Resources Commission; or
b. North Carolina's boundary with another state.
§ 113-129 (10a) Joint Fishing Waters. - Those coastal fishing waters in which are found a significant number of freshwater fish, as agreed upon by the Marine Fisheries Commission and the Wildlife Resources Commission in accordance with G.S. 113-132(e).
The rules that pertain to Coastal, Joint, and Inland Fishing Waters, are found in the N.C. Administrative Code as follows:
- MFC rules: 15A NCAC 03Q .0100 and .0200
- WRC rules: 15A NCAC 10C .0100
Periodic Review and Expiration of Existing Rules
In the 2013 legislative session, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted legislation that established a “Periodic Review and Expiration of Existing Rules” (Periodic Review). The statute (G.S. 150B-21.3A) requires agencies to review all their existing rules every 10 years. Except for rules required to implement federal law, failure to conduct the review in the timeframe required would cause the rule to automatically expire and be removed from the Code.
In general, the Periodic Review process requires agencies to:
- Conduct a review of rules every 10 years.
- Analyze and classify each existing rule as: 1) Necessary with substantive public interest; 2) Necessary without substantive public interest; or 3) Unnecessary.
- Accept public comments on agency classifications.
- Readopt any rules designated as “Necessary with Substantive Public Interest” through the permanent rulemaking process.
MFC 15A NCAC 03Q .0100 and WRC 15A NCAC 10C .0100 contain rules related to the classification of fishing waters in N.C. that are jointly adopted by the Commissions. These rules were reviewed in 2017 as part of the Periodic Review and were determined to be "Necessary with Substantive Public Interest". Therefore, the rules in these sections must be readopted through the permanent rulemaking process. The deadline for readoption is June 30, 2022.
The MFC 15A NCAC 03Q .0200 rules address the boundary lines for N.C. fishing waters. These rules were also reviewed in 2017 as part of the Periodic Review but were determined to be "Necessary without Substantive Public Interest" and therefore do not require readoption through the permanent rulemaking process. However, because the 03Q .0200 rules include the specific coordinates of the boundaries separating Fishing Waters, the rule will need to be amended through the permanent rulemaking process if the location of any dividing lines require modification.