North Carolina Fisheries Association Update on yesterday’s shrimp petition meeting!

“Serving the Commercial Fishing Families of North Carolina since 1952”
Phone: (252) 633-NCFA (6232)
Jerry Schill, President: [email protected]; ext. 100
David Bush, Fisheries Biologist: [email protected]; ext. 102
Peggy Page, Accounting: [email protected]; ext. 103
Aundrea O’Neal, Tradewinds Editor; [email protected]; ext. 101
Thanks to all fishermen, their families, consumers and other supporters of North Carolina’s commercial fishing communities for filling the Convention Center yesterday in New Bern!
Special kudos to the owners, captains and crews of the many fishing boats that were docked nearby at Union Point! It was a sight!
At 11:00, we had a special gathering upstairs at the Convention Center for a meeting and Prayer Service, to ask the Lord’s guidance for calm and protection for our state’s fishermen.
Five advisory panels to the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission met yesterday at the Riverfront Convention Center in New Bern to hear comments on a Petition for Rulemaking by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation that would severely restrict shrimp trawling in our state. Several trawlers were anchored at Union Point across the street from the Convention Center before and during the meeting. Hundreds filled the Convention Center as over 40 MFC advisors and the audience listened to NCWF and their attorneys from the Southern Environmental Law Center speak for about 45 minutes making their case. They then answered questions from the advisors. Several Commissioners from the MFC were in attendance also, as they serve on the advisory panels.
After that, the Divison of Marine Fisheries staff made their presentation and answered questions.
While the meeting began at 12:30pm, the public comment session started about 3:30. Speakers were limited to 3 minutes, but there is a process where one can request additional time, but there are criteria to do so. NCFA was the only group that asked, so Jerry Schill, Jess Hawkins and Connell Purvis were given 15 minutes to provide their reasoning for opposition. Jess and Connell are both former employees of the Division and are both biologists, with Connell serving as the Director of Marine Fisheries in the late 70s and early 80s.
Public comment continued until about 7:00pm when it was cut off due to time limitations to allow the 5 advisory panels to each discuss and vote on whether to recommend to the Marine Fisheries Commission to approve or deny the Petition. It should be noted that quit a few speakers could not speak due to getting cut off.
It was a very long day!
Here are the results of the Advisory groups:
9 to 1 to deny the petition
8 to 1 to deny the petition
7 to 1 to deny the petition
6 to 0 with 1 abstention to deny the petition
Habitat/Water Quality
7 to 1 with 1 abstention to deny the petition
Commissioners also serve on the various advisory panels:
Sammy Corbett did not vote.
Mike Wicker voted to recommend approval
Joe Shute voted to deny
Mark Gorges voted to recommend approval
Also, advisory members Pam Morris and Alison Willis opted not to vote as they serve as Chairs of their respective advisory committees.
Keep in mind that this was a meeting of ADVISORS and they only make recommendations to the full Marine Fisheries Commission. The MFC will meet in February to make their final decision.
Then again, since we just went through a similar exercise in 2013 and the Shrimp Fishery Management Plan was amended in 2015, does this ever end?
More detailed information about this very important meeting will be sent before the end of the week.