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copied from Carolina Tidelines

During the closing days of his 2016 campaign, Governor Roy Cooper put out a Marine Fisheries Policy Paper that included several commitments starting with the promise that, "As Governor, Roy Cooper will put in place agency managers and Marine Fisheries Commission members who will make decisions in accordance with the best scientific evidence available and conservative principles to enhance the resource."
At the November Marine Fisheries Commission meeting held last week in Emerald Isle, the nine-member commission, all now Governor Cooper appointees, voted 5-3-1 to reject the "best available science" as laid out by the Division of Marine Fisheries Plan Development Team in the Shrimp Fisheries Management Plan Amendment 2. The scientists from DMF had laid out a plan designed to meet the goals and objectives of the Shrimp FMP, as developed by the Marine Fisheries Commission, which included an overarching goal to minimize ecosystem impacts. Objectives to be used to achieve this goal included: Reduce bycatch of non-target species of finfish and crustaceans, and use biological, environmental, habitat, fishery, social, and economic data needed to effectively monitor and manage the shrimp fishery and its ecosystem impacts (i.e., bycatch, habitat degradation).
The Division, including Director Kathy Rawls, has stated several times that status quo would not meet the goals and objectives of the Plan Amendment as developed by the Marine Fisheries Commission.
The Gang of Five that voted against the Division recommendations included the two At-Large Commissioners, Tom Hendrickson, and Dr. Martin Posey, a Ph.D Biology Professor at UNC Wilmington. The Division's science team had laid out a comprehensive plan that included new area closures necessary to meet the goal of bycatch reduction and habitat protection based on decades of studies on critical fish nursery habitat areas. These area closures included much of the remaining open portions of the Pamlico, Bay and Neuse rivers, and Adams Creek, which were all areas identified by scientists as critical areas for juvenile fish as they are developing before moving into the more open waters of the Pamlico Sound.
Of concern for the Gang of Five was the inflamed notion that these new area closures would unfairly target the small boat operators and recreational shrimpers because the smaller size of their boats would not allow them to operate in the open waters of the Pamlico Sound and out into the Atlantic Ocean. Scores of concerned citizens came forward to support the claims that "thousands of people" would be put out of work and the public would no longer be able to buy fresh local shrimp. No scientific data was presented to support these claims yet the Gang of Five used this propaganda to assault the Division scientists for presenting such an egregiously unfair plan. Emotion once again ruled the day over science.
Once the motion to support the Division recommendations failed, Commissioner Doug Cross, a fish house owner, introduced his plan that included closing only Bogue Sound, "a relatively small and shallow body of water located in Carteret County" which accounts for only 4.8% of shrimp landings in the Central Area, and the Carolina Beach Yacht Basin, an area already surrounded by closed trawling areas. Tom Hendrickson offered a second and Dr. Posey soon came on board with his support to seal the fate of another "status quo" shrimp management plan. Interesting to note that under the Division's analysis they included the negative concern that closing these areas would be "Particularly limiting to smaller commercial and recreational shrimpers", the very people the Gang of Five were out to protect. No scientific data was offered Cross, Hendrickson or Posey to support how their proposal would help meet the goals and objectives of reducing bycatch in the shrimp trawl fishery or help protect critical habitat areas. They would certainly appear on the surface as doing just enough as to fall outside of doing nothing and supporting status quo.
Dr. Posey tried to explain to me how his vote was based on his personal concerns that there was not anything in the plan to help those displaced shrimpers transition into other livelihoods after the Division area closures put them out of business. Nothing based on science that would help meet the goals and objectives of bycatch reduction and habitat protection, just emotion based on unsubstantiated claims.
Kudos to Commissioners Tom Roller, Pete Kornegay (Science Seat, by the way), Robert McNeil, and Chairman Rob Bizzell for supporting the Division scientists in their development of a plan that would have actually helped meet the goals and objectives set by this Commission. The plan now goes to the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality, Elizabeth Biser, also a Cooper appointee, for final approval, then back to the Commission for final adoption at their February meeting. For a deeper dive into how the Shrimp FMP Amendment 2 was developed and then rejected, see: Where was the Spot Run this year?
Though disappointing, the decision of the Gang of Five was not surprising. It was yet another chapter in a long line of inaction or baby step management often due to the inclusion of commissioners with a financial stake in the outcome. Over the last 25 years, as our fish stocks have continued their downward slide, North Carolina has had five different governors, all with the power to reverse these trends. The legislature has also chosen to stay on the sidelines, with the rare appearance at Commission meetings to threaten legislative reversal when reform efforts get too close. This continued inaction on the regulatory and legislative levels could lead to some stocks getting too low to bring back. For that reason, a lawsuit led by CCA NC seeking to hold the State accountable for mismanaging North Carolina's coastal fisheries resources is moving ahead. Help us in this cause. Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina | CCA NC

SOUTHERN FLOUNDER FMP AMENDMENT 3
The Commission voted to send the draft Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan Amendment 3 out for public comment and advisory committee review. The draft flounder plan amendment includes options for commercial and recreational quotas, commercial trip limits, recreational bag limits, regulations on the recreational use of commercial gear to harvest flounder, separating Southern flounder from other flounder species in recreational management, evaluating inlet corridors as a management tool, evaluating a recreational slot limit, and phasing out large-mesh gill nets in the Southern flounder fishery before the next Sea Turtle ITP renewal. Information on the public comment period will be announced at a later date.

ESTUARINE STRIPED BASS FMP
It was very troubling to hear the updates provided by lead biologist Charlton Godwin regarding striped bass. CCA NC was particularly disappointed to learn that the NC Wildlife Resources Commission had made a request for a different allocation of the Total Allowable Landings (TAL) on the Albemarle Sound Management Area (ASMA), yet the Advisory Committee was not made aware. That is something the AC should have discussed.
More troubling, however, was that there was yet another poor spawn on the ASMA resulting in a continuation of the recent trend of poor recruitment for this stock. This is now the fifth consecutive poor (or failed) spawning event in a row for this region. Whatever the reasons are, every effort must be made to determine what is happening and to correct the problem, or problems, and this must be done quickly.

SPECKLED TROUT
The update on the next Speckled Trout FMP included a report that the 2014 stock assessment indicated not overfished and not experiencing overfishing. The next stock assessment is continuing with biological year data through February 2020. Completion of the new stock assessment is set for early 2022.
Despite the absence of a new stock assessment, Commissioner Cross is already preparing the groundwork to go after more commercial allocation of the stock in the next FMP by asking that the Director included a Total Allowable Landings (TAL) limit for recreational anglers in the next plan. Following decades of overharvest of Southern flounder by the commercial industry leading to the severe harvest reductions and a 50/50 allocation between recreational and commercial harvest of Southern flounder by 2024, Commissioner Cross is clearly setting his sights on taking speckled trout allocation away from rec anglers in the new plan.
 

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What gets me when I read a lot of these articles (and I've been similar things going back to the shut-down of striper fishing in the Chesapeake Bay back in the day) is that the dwindling of our coastal resources has been going on for decades and we're not even dealing with the same small commercial fishermen any more, therefore new generations of people are taking that up as a living. Why? Who would get into that now knowing that the resource is threatened, management efforts will always make it more difficult to make a living off it, and the likelihood of going back to the bad old days of almost unlimited take is virtually non-existent. And for what - barely a living wage?

Yeah, there might be some romantic thing involved with being your own boss and harvesting a living from the water, but the rest of us can't afford that AND keep the resource safe from both overharvesting and climate change.

I think on one end we need to put a moratorium on new commercial fishing/shrimping licenses so that at least we prevent any new constituency from keeping the commercial lobby going and helping perpetuate the hit on our resources, and on the other end find ways to help transition people away from commercial shrimping and fishing and into other things.

I would also consider a gradual yearly reduction in the number of existing commercial fish/shrimp licenses down to a pre-determined and sustainable target, perhaps including a license buy-back program in order to facilitate the process.
 

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Because neither of you have ever been broke on the OBX and the only thing open for employment is working the water, you pontificate on what should be the best use of resources according to what best fits your needs from someplace else.

You fellas likely never met the people in the industry in person, there are several hundred predominately people of color who depend on heading shrimp during the season in NC. There are a few more employed directly by the fish houses, then the truck driver who comes to get the shrimp, which goes to the wholesaler who distributes to the retailers. The poor people work the line in Englehard, in Wanchese, in Morehead and on down to get the fresh shrimp to feed thousands up and down the East Coast.

Spend a day from dawn to dusk elbow to elbow, standing belly up to a stainless table covered in shrimp and ice, picking heads for $.40 a pound and talk about sustainable living and then tell these poorest of the poor people they need to quit working Shrimp because you did catch your limit of trout, or you had to release a few more than you would prefer.

You want to sustain the waterways in NC, then ban all farming and insecticides and fertilizer that drains off into the rivers and then into the sounds, unless they are sending all their waste and directing their sediment ponds into waste-to-energy plants. While you are at it ban on all septic tanks and Municipal Sewer Plants that are not using Pyrolysis technology to create energy from waste and prevent it from entering groundwater. Make it illegal to flush a toilet unless the waste is prevented from entering the soil.

And try not to stand in the way of Wind and Solar Power which is great unless of course if it in some other State other than your own and you can't see it or have to hear it.
 

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That's somewhat fair, but only to a point. Why is our economy structured so that the only way some people can make a living is to work in an industry that pays them very little and exploits a resource that we all share? Are you really saying that the best we can do is deplete a fishery so that some people can continue to eke out a marginal living? There are other jobs, other ways to make a living. Yeah, I understand that grand-daddy did it and daddy did it but that's no longer enough justification to keep it going perpetually through the generations.

As for dealing with pesticides and excess nutrients, we can do both - protect our watersheds and protect the wildlife they sustain. It's not a binary choice.
 

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I do not know you, I do not know the original poster who posts a lot on this subject of banning commercial fishing from North Carolina.

I do know a fair amount of commercial fisherman, mostly from Hatteras Island. Some are my friends from back in the day when I fished with them in their boats, some are not my friends at all but view me as an outsider. The reason the Rodanthe Midgettes and O'Neals accepted me when I moved to Hatteras, was because I let them know and still believe to this day, that Hatteras belongs to them and the rest of us are just bleep bleep Tourists passing thru.

It was these families along with the other Hatteras Families going back to revolutionary war times that gave the lands what now make up Cape Hatteras National Seashore to the Federal Government back in the depression years.

I also know some of the folks that head shrimp for a living in Wanchese. There is a young man who would be 25 years old or so now who started on the Shrimp processing tables when he was perhaps eight years old with his Mom at his side. I would venture to guess he has no one in his immediate family that went beyond grade school education. He rides to work in van with other folks making the marginal living you seem to feel is unjustified because it interferes with your playtime of sport fishing.

The Young Black man I am using as an example makes $150-200 a day heading shrimp, he is super fast and proficient at it, no wasted motions, child labor at its best in America. Someone not familiar with heading shrimp would perhaps make $20 the first day unless they really tried real hard and were willing to walk away at the end of the day with hands full of punctures from Shrimp Horns and a wet ass and a wet $20 bill from piecework at $.40 a pound of Shrimp Heads which correlates to perhaps 20 pounds of whole weight Shrimp. So to make your $20, you have to head 50 pounds of live weight Shrimp. So if you want to make $200 like the young uneducated black man from Columbia you have to head 500 pounds of Shrimp and the fish house gives you perhaps seven hours to do it, starting at dawn.

I left Hatteras a long time ago to make a better living in Finance, but when I come back to play at fishing for Drum which we started releasing right after I left, I enjoy running into the Island People and if they have some killer drum bait for me, fresh from their nets, so much the better, I gladly pay them cash at the dock.

So if these folks want to fish the Pamlico and the Atlantic for as long as they care, I for one will not stand in the way.

There is a song from the 1980's Downeaster Alexa by Billy Joel about commercial fishing and in the video there is a the Grave of a member of the Lester Family, the Lesters were run off the fishing grounds their family had fished for centuries and banned from setting haul seines for Stripers some time back, by the rich New Yorkers who come to play in the Hamptons who wanted the Stripers for sport.

There was more than a few days back in the day I sang Downeaster Alexa to myself, whilst piloting a Rodanthe Midgettes net boat back to shore, nets in the bow and dead fish in stern.

Anyway I stand with them, always will, right or wrong, I do not really care.
 

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So here's a similar fishing scenario where conservation and the perceived needs of folks who make their livelihood from the resource might appear to clash: Science Daily article here

It has to do with depredation, a larger fish, typically a shark, taking the catch of an angler before it's hauled in. The article takes a look at the attitudes of those affected by these events, the angler himself, and the captains, mates, or other guides who put the paying angler on the target species. To summarize, the anglers themselves often aren't negatively impacted by the occurrence and instead show awe for and appreciation of nature in the wild, whereas those who make their living from chartering have a negative impact of the event and are far more willing to target sharks as a way to remove them and the impact they have on their livelihood. Yet sharks are being overharvested and their numbers threatened.

Some may feel that the charter industry has the right to protect itself and try to cull the threat to its livelihood, others might be horrified that an apex predator such as sharks are hunted merely as an inconvenience to us.
 

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NC most common Shark inshore is the SandBar, it along with the Sand Tiger are Federally protected, SandBar got protected because the Chinese favored its large Dorsal, so horrified folks seeing videos of long lined sharks being dumped over alive but missing their fins, pressured the Federal Government to protect the SandBar.

We have a pretty healthy population of large Sandbars in NC at the moment, go to the Point any fishable day for the next five Winter months and you will run into these critters if you can chuck out a fresh bait with a heaver.

At the Point the Sport Fishing people drag the big Garbos up on the beach for Glamour Shots, the Sharks may or may not survive the pressure placed upon their intestines and liver. The real Big Sandbars are a much more aggressive shark so they are rarely drug up on the beach especially after they get beyond six feet as they become a safety issue. Mostly these are all catch and release since it is a $10,000 Fine to Kill a Sand Tiger.

I have a friend who is a Commercial Fishing Captain who makes most of his income from Long Lining off the NC-SC Coast, some netting but mostly tuna and Mahi off the Long lines in or near the Gulf Stream. His boat is based out of Wanchese. Last I had heard they had shut down the winter Mako Shark fishery, which made up a good portion of his income during the winter. Running short on Makos and Whites unless you are trying to swim on Cape Cod and there are too many Whites,

They did longline out most of the big Duskies though back in the late 1970's which is why the Scallop fishery is down and the Cow Nose Rays are in the thousands. Big Duskies would eat the Cownose whole and kept the population in check. Used to be a ton of large Hammerheads both Scalloped and Great that stayed all summer long on the OBX, they are gone now mostly, it was something when I king fished back then to see a ten foot Hammerhead blast your Bluefish tethered to a Pin Rig. Each pier had a resident Hammerhead, Nags Head Pier was named "old Tom", he or she was an ten footer that lived their every summer. All Summer long in the 1980's.

I have an aversion to opening links due to the Russians trying to get me at least a couple times a month, so I did not read your article so I do not know where your study took place but on the OBX the Sharks are pretty thick at least when you are trying to catch Drum or live baiting fending off the Spinners and Blacktips.

It is only the other fellas greed that is the problem.
 
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