How many threatened loggerhead, green and marine sea turtles and the endangered Kemps Ridley turtle are off the coast of the United States? How many are off the North Carolina coast?

These questions need answers. Because for years and years only commercial fishermen — those who provide restaurants and markets with seafood — have been required to report any interaction they have with sea turtles.

But recreational fishermen have not been required to report interactions, and according to a notice of intent the N.C. Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network reported 28 strandings of endangered or threatened sea turtles between Jan. 1 and Sept. 6, 2013, directly attributable to hook and line fishing, 45% of all strandings reported in that time.

In Friday’s newspaper, News-Times staff writer Mike Shutak said the notice also said that in recent years 15% to 20% of live and dead loggerheads, a threatened species along the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, were injured by being hit by recreational boaters, who are also not required to report strikes, and the National Marine Fisheries Services estimates that boat strikes are the second highest non-fisheries related cause of mortality in loggerheads.

To get an accurate stock assessment and gauge recovery of sea turtles, the N.C. Fisheries Association and the Carteret County Fisherman’s Association have given 60 days intent that for violations of the Endangered Species Act they will file suit against the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Commerce, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and N.C. Wildlife Resources.

 Representing the associations are Attorney Stevenson Weeks with the Beaufort firm of Wheatly, Wheatly, Weeks, Lupton & Massie, and Wes C. Cooper, also an attorney in Beaufort.

Mr. Weeks said the associations want the NMFS to conduct a sea turtle population stock assessment throughout the United States. They’re also seeking requirements for both commercial and recreational fisheries to be observed for interactions with sea turtles and fishing gear, as well as a requirement for both types of fishermen to report such interactions.

“Mr. Weeks said that to date, there has been no stock assessment of sea turtle numbers in the United States. He said that there have been nesting studies done, but these aren’t a good indicator of turtle populations because only female turtles nest and not all females nest every year.

The commercial fishermen and many recreational fishermen think the turtles are at or near recovery,” he said.

 “Commercial fishermen would love to see the turtle recover and to see restrictions eased,” said Mr. Weeks. “The fishermen are reporting more turtles every year. We want a stock assessment, but in the meantime we want a little equality. We think all user groups should do their part to help the recovery, not just the commercial fishermen.”

“We want observers to determine how large the recreational take (of sea turtles) is,” he said. “Also, there should be areas where recreational fishing should be prohibited.”

A “take” is defined in the ESA as any action that harms, harasses, captures, pursues, hunts, shoots, wounds, traps or kills a protected species.

NCFA Interim Executive Director Jerry Schill said the NCFA is considering a lawsuit for three reasons: to help the turtles recover, fairness in regulations and to create a roadmap to an “end game” for threatened and endangered turtles.

While neither the NCFA nor the CCFA want to end the protection of turtles, a stock assessment of the sea turtle population should be begun and the Endangered Species Act should be applied to recreational fishermen and recreational boaters. Equal application is, as Mr. Weeks stated, “a little equality.”

(18) comments

ClammerFool

THANK YOU LOCKWOOD PHILLIPS!!!

Throw our carteret county real money-maker under the bus to protected a tiny little destructive gill net fishery that isn't worth $150k in the whole county.

Let's see how this goes - AND THE TRUTH WILL COME OUT!

Are saving gill nets worth costing our county tourism dollars via boating and fishing?

Unite us against gill nets!

Osprey

Be careful what you ask for. A government study could take years, and in the meantime prepare for more restrictions on gill nets and tightening regulations on turtle interaction.
If studies reveal the turtle populations recovering, then conclusion will be it is due to government regulation. If populations are found not to be increasing, then certainly more protection will be needed.
Looks like the attorneys will be the only winners here.

Tommy61

ClammerFool this just shows how low you all will go'. Everything was fine when it was the gill-netters taking all the blame for turtle deaths , now that the truth is coming out about all the interactions with others you want to cry foul , why don't you join up with us and lets get a stock assessment done. If we are for protecting the turtles everyone should do their part instead of a few.

clammerhead

Notice how Clammerfool has cried that Lockwood has thrown the real money makers under the bus. This is a direct statement saying that now not only are gill netters to blame, but Lockwood is to blame too. Once again we hear the voice of elitist claiming ownership of public resources, while denying responsibility for their interactions that may cause harm to sea turtles...

Also take notice of his suggested data. According to Clammerfool, gill netting only accounts for $150,000 in the entire county, but he doesn't include the rest of the state gill net fisheries that are affected by the present regulations, and the data he has provided for us to take at his word is only the landing value, and doesn't include all of the other economic stimulus associated with the gill net fishery and related fisheries that are sustained by gill netting.

As in the past, there is going to be a lot of this kind of propaganda spewed out by these anti-commercial fishing groups like the CCA. Sadly for decent recreational fishermen, you are going to have to suffer from this kind of tripe.

Once again, all this lawsuit calls for is equality among all user groups that may have interactions with sea turtles, an accurate count of how many turtles there are, and and end game to let us all know when they are ( if not already ) recovered.

Now is the time that all recreational fishermen decide what they want to do about this. You have a very limited array of choices.

(1) You can remain silent in all manners and watch this lawsuit go forward, which will most definitely result in restrictions and observations.

(2) You can join the CCA, and it's ilk and watch this lawsuit go froward, which will most definitely result in restrictions and observations.

(3) You can burn your CCA membership card, disown this kind of elitism, and become an active part in resolving this issue so that all may enjoy which ever type of fishing they choose.

This move towards a lawsuit is not something initiated by commercial fishermen. It is a reaction to something that was laid upon the commercial fishing industry without due consideration of all users equally...

This issue affects more than just the recreational and commercial fishing industries. This law suit will bring to the forefront other user groups such as beach goers, tourism rentals and other related services, development, and all related service industries.

Unknowingly or not, the turtle lawsuit that brought on restrictions to the commercial fishing industry was more than what appeared on the screen when presented and settled. It was the beginning of a long slippery slope that will affect all of North Carolina, and a great number if not all of it's citizens...

Now is the time to choose where you will stand in the annals of North Carolina history, on an issue that may very well set the rules for this entire nation...

Keep in mind, that this may very well be ( or turn into ) the largest lawsuit in the history of the Endanger Species Act...

Clammerhead

ClammerFool

Things are not equal.

Pound nets and crab pot lines have many recorded interactions as well. Shrimp trawlers don't have an ITP - maybe they should get one with required observing?

It might be time to address these as well.

Biggest case in ESA history?

Yeah...and gill nets are a worthwhile economic endeavor...when the vast majority of the state costs more to observe than it's worth. And the entire state costs more to observe than it generates in income.

The problem is estuarine gill nets - time for that problem to go away.

clammerhead

Clammerfool is correct. Things are not equal...


Fishing piers do are not required to report, and don't have an ITP either. That should be easy to resolve. They don't move.

Neither are tour boats, and ferries. Not even the new outfit running to the banks. All they need to do is carry one less passenger...

They might have to add a few days fishing time to the Marlin
Tournament because of the ride out and back being entirely in a no wake zone...

The beach rentals might have to adjust a little too, because we can't have the nesting season ruined by tourist...

Duke Energy ain't going to like it though, because of all the lights that won't be used during nesting season either...

But, on the bright side, beach towns can save on lifeguards...

Like I said, a lot of people are going to taste this medicine...

Fair and equal doesn't look as good as it used to does it?

Clammerhead

TURTLEEYEJOE

Fairness and equality would be treating humans as good as turtles but that ain't happened in a long time.

clammerhead

TURTLEEYEJOE,

You are right about that. Humans, especially commercial fishermen are not treated as equals to turtles. The turtles have been elevated above our importance by a great many of people that choose to treat a food source as their pets...Like I said on another thread, Don't play with your food...

I encourage everyone to take a look at the video on the link below... It is a bit lengthy, but loaded with a great deal of undeniable and documented truth that most people in the State of North Carolina are not aware of....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imZll1qBKB0

Clammerhead

clammerhead

In the link below is a typical campaign statement by the North Carolina Fisheries Management and You group on Facebook...

The want to present the commercial industry as childish, and wanting everything only for themselves, with an " If I can't have it, then you can't either " attitude...This display depicts that commercial fishermen want recreational fishing banned, and in return we should all campaign to have gill nets ( a very important part of the commercial fishing industry ) removed from inside waters...

In fact this campaign strategy shows this to be the mentality of the anti- commercial fishing movement and most of the groups involved.

Being that the lawsuit they think will stop recreational fishing in fact does not call for such action, rather calls for proper enforcement of the ESA regulations concerning sea turtles, and corrections to any activities that harm sea turtles, or impede the growth of sea turtle stocks...

Anyone that is involved in or supports the recreational fishing industry should take a long, and hard reflection on this issue, remembering that the proposed lawsuit being considered now, was initiated by a lawsuit against the commercial gill net industry. Keeping in mind that the original sea turtle lawsuit was championed by these very groups that are willing to drag every recreational fisherman down with them now in their effort to remove gill nets, if not commercial fishing in it's entirety...

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=202619399947308&set=a.179524698923445.1073741828.179504535592128&type=1&theater

Clammerhead

clammerhead

Another link....

http://www.nctradewinds.com/latest-news.html

Clammerhead

clammerhead

Now that the truth is out, and may go to court, where are all the CCNT Hawks that keep blaming commercial fishermen for everything?

A lot of silence out there, for such a noisy group...

Come on...Tell us all how you don't have turtle interactions, and the data proves it...

Clammerhead

TURTLEEYEJOE

Food for thought. Why would the comms want to stop wreck fishing when most comms fish wreckeationaly too?

Sheepshead

Looks like another slap coming to commercial fishermen in the near future. (The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ stock-status report on Atlantic croaker generates more questions than answers.
It presents a “concern” listing because it says scientists can’t “precisely determine overfished stock status,” although the coast-wide assessment says croaker “are not overfished and overfishing is not occurring.”
If you’re confused, how about the poor croakers? Recreational fishing for these tasty saltwater panfish in Pamlico Sound is and has been terrible for years, unlike the Chesapeake Bay’s tributaries that offer up 10- to 14-inch fish spring through fall.
Division biologist Jason Rock acknowledged shrimp trawling on croaker grounds, mainly Pamlico Sound, is a concern, but said the agency couldn’t make a definite call about the species’ overall health because it doesn’t have enough information about the effects of bottom trawling on juvenile croakers.
However, the Division actually does have that information. It came from studies from 2007-08 and 2011 conducted by staff biologist Kevin Brown, whose work indicates that infantile Atlantic croakers comprised from 24.79 to 33 percent of the total biomass caught by inshore trawlers and 38.9 percent of the total trawl by-catch.
If one acknowledges 30 infant croakers per pound and 44,092 pounds of incidental croakers caught annually in trawl nets (as the Division has reported), that translates into an astounding 1.3 million in annual by-catch croaker mortality.
Moreover, Brown’s study showed 78 percent by weight of all species caught in Pamlico Sound trawl nets is by-catch.
Anti-trawling groups such as the Coastal Fisheries Reform Group have used the studies to pound the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission’s apparent inability to connect the dots and end multi-net otter trawling by large vessels.
Yet Rock defended inshore trawling.
“Approximately 45 percent of internal waters are closed to shrimp trawling,” he said. “(Division)-prescribed scientific analysis was undertaken to support these nursery-area rule designations, and all of Pamlico Sound did not meet these criteria. This was also the rationale for denying the recent petition-for-rulemaking request to classify all internal waters not already classified as primary or special secondary-nursery areas as permanent secondary-nursery areas.”
Three nursery-area finfish habitats — primary, permanent secondary and special secondary — are off limits to trawling. However those areas overlap — by a happy coincidence they’re also too shallow for trawl-boat keels — which means the majority of water from Roanoke Island through Pamlico Sound to Swansboro remains a huge trawl field to be plowed over and over.
Trawling opponents who cite massive by-catch totals say the entire Pamlico Sound is a nursery area. Interestingly, the Division’s stock-status reports for individual saltwater species indicate nursery areas exist sound-wide.
Whether the entire sound is, isn’t, should or shouldn’t be a nursery area for croaker — plus spot and gray trout — appear to be rabbit holes used to avoid facing five potentially management-altering facts: Pamlico Sound croaker fishing once was fantastic; large shrimp trawls have plowed the sound for years, killing millions of baby fish; most North Carolina croakers are less than nine inches long; Virginia bans inside trawling at its nursery areas; serious croaker anglers go to the southern Chesapeake Bay, particularly near Virginia Beach, to land magnum croakers — and gray trout.
Rock admitted “common sense” might lead one to think reduced otter trawling in Pamlico Sound would create an increase in juvenile croaker abundance, yet he said that “might not result in increased Atlantic croaker abundance coast-wide.”
To which trawling opponents might say: “Okay; we’re not worried about croakers from New Jersey to Florida. We’re worried about North Carolina croakers. Why isn’t NCDMF?”) I also hear the size limit will go up next year for commercial fishermen and rec to 16 inches!

Sheepshead

OOPS I was trying to say that i hear next year the flounder size limit will go to 16 inches for both rec, and commercial fishermen.

clammerhead

I never had any problem finding croakers this summer past...

Clammerhead

clammerhead

Sheepshead,

2007-2008, 2011...?

It's 2014.... Those studies are kind of old aren't they?

Clammerhead

Sheepshead

Clammerhead First of all i was pointing out an article that was coming out in the NC SPORTSMAN MAG. I was not trying to pull your short chain i know you are trigger happy to cut people down. But if you well reread what i posted you will see i used ( ) At the start and the end of the article. And i also telked to someone in the DMF and was told to be ready for the size limit to go up to 16 inches in the next year!

clammerhead

Sheepshead,

Ain't no big thing. I weren't snapping off. I was just pointing out that seems to be one of the bigger issues we are facing in our resource management.

There is too much old or incorrect data being used, when there is better data available.

Sometimes the data we have is being hand picked by special interest, or adversary groups. Sometimes it is being used correctly, but it is far from what is currently correct.

This leads to the point of exactly what this letter of intent is supposed to help correct. Before we continue to inhibit the livelihoods of citizens, we need to know the truth about how many turtles there really are, exactly who is interacting with them, how much these people are interacting with them, what needs to be done ( if anything ) to correct any problems there are, and when we have achieved success...

Until all of these things are done, it is just numbers that change lives. More times than not being used in ways that benefit the providers of that information, and few others. Especially the resource..

Clammerhead

Welcome to the discussion.

As a privately owned web site, we reserve the right to edit or remove comments that contain spam, advertising, vulgarity, threats of violence, racism, anti-Semitism, or personal/abusive/condescending attacks on other users or goading them. The same applies to trolling, the use of multiple aliases, or just generally being a jerk. Enforcement of this policy is at the sole discretion of the site administrators and repeat offenders may be blocked or permanently banned without warning.