NCFA Weekly Update for Nov. 7, 2014

WEEKLY UPDATE: 11/4/2014

NORTH CAROLINA FISHERIES ASSOCIATIONNCFA

“Serving the Commercial Fishing Families of North Carolina since 1952”

Phone: (252) 745-0225 – www.ncfish.org

Jerry Schill, President: [email protected] Cell: 252-361-3015  

Lauren Morris, Membership/Operations Manager:  

[email protected] Cell: 252-725-2468

 

UPCOMING NCFA BOARD MEETING:

The Board of Directors will meet this coming Tuesday, Nov. 11, at 2 p.m. in the conference room of the Hampton Inn in Washington.  The board will discuss the summer flounder season structure, Commercial Fishing Resource Fund Board appointments, and Tradewinds as well as receive updates on many ongoing issues.

 

UPCOMING MARINE FISHERIES COMMISSION MEETING:

NCFA will host a meeting Nov. 19 from 3-5:30 p.m. in the Pier House at the Hilton Garden Inn in Kitty Hawk to hear from fishermen and discuss priority issues before the commission’s public meeting.  It is important that all commercial fishermen that are able attend!   

 

The commission will meet Nov. 19-21 at the Hilton Garden Inn to:

  • Develop its 2015 initiatives
  • Vote on nominating candidates for the Mid- and South Atlantic fishery management councils
  • Vote on funding for shrimp trawl bycatch research and industry workgroup
  • Vote on the charge of the Sea Turtle Advisory Committee
  • Select its preferred management options for Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan Amendment 1
  • Vote on the strategic habitat area Region 3 nominations
  • Receive presentations on the American Shad Sustainable Fishery Plan and estuarine striped bass adaptive management measures

 

View the agenda and briefing materials.

 

JERRY’S COMMENTS: 

The 2014 election is history, and now begins the serious preparation for the North Carolina General Assembly’s long session, which starts on January 14th.

 

All of the coastal legislators in the state legislature were re-elected.

 

For the Congressional races: NC House Speaker Thom Tillis defeated incumbent US Senator Kay Hagan; Walter Jones & G.K. Butterfield both won re-election to the US House, and David Rouzer was elected to Congress, replacing Mike McIntyre in the southeastern part of the state.

 

Here’s my take on the election, and keep in mind these are my personal opinions:

 

MEETINGS:

If you are aware of ANY meetings that should be of interest to commercial fishing that is not on this list, please contact us so we can include it here.

 

Nov. 12 – For-Hire Logbook Reporting Requirement Meeting – Manteo

 

Nov. 19-21 – Marine Fisheries Commission Meeting – Kitty Hawk

 

MFC/DMF MEETING SCHEDULE

 

PROCLAMATIONS: GILL NETS – ALBEMARLE SOUND AREA – MANAGEMENT UNIT A

LARGE MESH GILL NETS PERMITS AND OBSERVERS:

Beginning on Monday, September 1, if you fish gill nets in internal waters, you need a permit. (Drift gill nets, strike, runaround or drop gill nets are exempt.) The permit wasn’t the Division’s idea, but came from commercial fishermen. It was thought that if one of the requirements for the federal ITP in the fishery is to have 7 percent of large mesh trips observed, then rather than have more restrictions, why not devise a permit to make sure we get enough coverage. Without the coverage, the feds can shut down the fishery, so a permit can keep that from happening. If a fisherman refuses to take an observer, he can lose his permit.

 

If you are fishing large mesh gill nets, don’t wait to be called to take an observer. Call DMF and volunteer if you haven’t taken an observer. Don’t let it up to a few to take observers. If everyone does their part, the burden can be spread around a bit and you can do your part in keeping the fishery open.

 

One other point about fishing and turtles: If you have an interaction with a turtle while you’re fishing and you don’t have an observer, then call DMF and let them know. That’s better for all of us. You won’t get penalized for it and it’s something that should be done.

 

POUND NETS:

Most fishermen check their pound nets daily for a number of reasons. One is the quality of the fish is better if fished frequently. NCFA encourages all pound net fishermen to check their nets daily, weather permitting. Fishermen should not be expected to risk their lives when checking their nets, but if the weather allows, we encourage you to check. It just makes sense, but most of you already know that.

Senator Kay Hagan was always very helpful on federal fisheries issues. Her Chief of Staff in North Carolina has been Melissa Midgett from Wanchese, whose Dad is a commercial fisherman, and Melissa is well-versed in the challenges that commercial fishing families face. That personal connection with a US Senator will be sorely missed. However, as of right now we don’t know who Senator-elect Tillis will bring on for his staff folks. I read an opinion on Facebook that as a US Senator, Thom Tillis will destroy commercial fishing. I don’t share that opinion, but as I noted in reply, it’s my job to make sure he doesn’t. I’m confident that he and his staff will prove to be a positive for commercial fishing as we fight the heavy handed feds on many different fronts.

 

In the US House, Congressman Mike McIntyre was also very friendly to commercial fishing, but he decided to retire. His replacement, David Rouzer, will be super in my opinion. I’ve known him for quite a few years, beginning when he was a staffer for Senator Jesse Helms. David also worked with NC State University for a while and served two terms in the North Carolina Senate.

 

G.K. Butterfield has represented the First Congressional District for 10 years. I’ve had very little interaction with his office, but what I have had has been disappointing. That’s partially understandable since none of his district borders the coastline, but he does represent a significant number of commercial fishermen living in the northeast part of the state. In addition, although I live in Craven County he’s my representative in Congress, so I expect just a bit more when asking his staff to do something rather simple. To be fair, I haven’t taken the time to seriously reach out to G.K. or his staff when they’re in the District. G.K.’s staff could take a lesson or two from the late, great Floyd Lupton when it comes to constituent service!

 

On to state politics: You may figure that it’s all going to be the same since the coastal incumbents got re-elected. But you would be wrong! Gamefish proponents in the NC House, Tom Murry and Tim Moffitt were both defeated. Of equal significance for us is Senator Wesley Meredith from Fayetteville beat back a challenge by Billy Richardson. Richardson served previously in the NC House and was the primary sponsor of a net ban bill in the mid-90s. One of this year’s campaign promises from him was to make another attempt at a net ban a priority!

 

What about other gamefish sponsors? John Bell and Brian Brown were both easily re-elected, with John having no opposition, and Brian winning 60% to 40%. While we may not agree on all of the issues, I feel comfortable talking to both of them this coming session. They were both freshman legislators this past session, plus the fact they have constituents that are, for the most part, not involved with commercial fishing and their constituents have differing opinions than ours. Taking that into consideration, one can understand, (well, kind of), why they sponsored the gamefish bill.

 

I believe in dialogue. I also believe in putting things in perspective. I’ll continue to talk to these legislators on behalf of NCFA and commercial fishing families in a respectful, yet firm, manner. With God’s help, we’ll be OK.

 

God bless,

Jerry