N.C. Fisheries Association

EMERALD ISLE — With the N.C. Marine Fisheries set to decide on two hotly debated fisheries management plan amendments – striped bass and striped mullet – later this week, the N.C. Fisheries Association has been urging its members to show up for the Emerald Isle meeting and weigh in.

The estuarine striped bass amendment is set to be voted on during a session Thursday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m., while the striped mullet vote is scheduled during a session that begins at 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 18.

The meeting runs from Wednesday, with a public comment session at 6 p.m., through Friday. All sessions will be in the Islander Hotel. Those interested can also watch and listen by going to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOO2P_btGwc.

The amendment to the striped bass management plan includes the current Neuse and Pamlico rivers gill net closure upstream of the ferry lines. This closure was enacted in 2019 by the commission during a special meeting.

The Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina strongly supports the closure and says it is helping to improve the stocks of, not only striped bass, but other fish stocks that have been under pressure. The organization wants the state commission to extend the gill net closure into part of Pamlico Sound.

But Glenn Skinner, executive director of the N.C. Fisheries Association, a trade and lobbying group for commercial fishermen in the state, recently said the commission in 2019 used data from 1972 to 2002 to enact the gill net closure and did not take into consideration measures taken since 2008 to improve the striped bass stock.

“The public came out to support lifting the river closures by attending MFC meetings and giving public comment,” he said, and two of the state’s fisheries advisory committees have recommended ending the closure.

As for the amendment to the plan for the striped mullet fishery, Skinner said further harvest reductions envisioned in the proposal would be “another hard pill to swallow for commercial fishermen.

“I have listened to the (previous) public comments … and I have talked to fishermen who are on the water every day who know striped mullet stocks are doing much better than (the fisheries division’s) stock assessment is showing. “

He urged the organization’s members to contact marine fisheries commissioners and attend the meeting to comment.

The MFC, policy-making arm of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is composed of commercial and recreational fishermen, commercial fishing industry and sportfishing industry representatives, a scientist and two at-large members.

It has for many years served as the focal point for public debate between commercial and recreational fishermen.

CCA is suing the state in Wake County Superior Court to make the state fulfill state officials’ “long-standing, public trust responsibilities to manage coastal fish stocks in a way that protects the public trust rights of the public, as incorporated in the North Carolina constitution, to fish in North Carolina’s coastal waters.”

The state tried to claim sovereign immunity from that suit, but the N.C. Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in September that CCA could sue the state. The state decided not to appeal that ruling to the N.C. Supreme Court.

 

Contact Brad Rich at 252-864-1532; email brad@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @brichccnt.

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