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North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for 11/21/2022 – NCMFC Votes More Apples for Me!

Last week I attended the November 2022 business meeting of the NC Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) and below are my thoughts on a couple of key issues on their agenda. Bear in mind I have not gone back and listened to the meeting, so I am relying solely on my recollection from last week. Thankfully, it’s only been a couple of days so my percent standard error (PSE) should be much lower than the bi-monthly mail survey the State used to estimate the recreational harvest of Stiped Mullet! Night one of the meetings began at 6pm with comments from the public, mostly recreational anglers and mostly focused on one issue, the net ban in the Upper Neuse and Pamlico Rivers. >click to read the weekly update< 12:08

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update, 11/21/2022 – North Carolina MFC Votes More Apples for Me!

North Carolina MFC Votes More Apples for Me!

Last week I attended the November 2022 business meeting of the NC Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) and below are my thoughts on a couple of key issues on their agenda. Bear in mind I have not gone back and listened to the meeting, so I am relying solely on my recollection from last week. Thankfully, it’s only been a couple of days so my percent standard error (PSE) should be much lower than the bi-monthly mail survey the State used to estimate the recreational harvest of Stiped Mullet!

Night one of the meetings began at 6pm with comments from the public, mostly recreational anglers and mostly focused on one issue, the net ban in the Upper Neuse and Pamlico Rivers. The takeaways from the recreational comment were, North Carolina fisheries have gone to hell in a handbag, (except for the Upper Neuse and Pamlico thanks to the net ban) the States to our South have fisheries management figured out, and more net bans will equal more fish. None of which is supported by data, but neither was the implementation of the net ban, or the results of several recent stock assessments so, why should that matter? After public comment, Woody Joyner, President of NC Waterman United, and I were discussing the commenters assertion that since the net ban the fishing had improved. I told Mr. Joyner that, unlike most of their claims, this one may be true and used the following analogy to explain.

Imagine that Mr. Joyner and I share a property line and, on that line, stands an apple tree. Mr. Joyner and I have a gentleman’s agreement that all the apples on his side of the tree are his and those on my side are mine, and for years we both enjoy an abundant harvest. Then, one year I hire a surveyor to survey my property and it’s determined that the apple tree is entirely within the boundaries of my property and new lines are drawn. Now, simply drawing a line Mr. Joyner couldn’t cross did not increase the amount of fruit on that tree, but it did, without a doubt, mean more apples for me!

Simply put, both the intent and result of removing the nets were reallocation, “more apples for me”, nothing more. This conclusion was supported by comments from both members of the Commission and DMF staff the following day. Division staff concluded that the angler’s perception of more fish was most likely just more fish for me and the result of them now catching, the fish they had traditionally caught in addition to the fish traditionally caught by commercial fishermen, not increased abundance. DMF staff also pointed out that in the 3+ years since the implementation of the net ban and harvest moratorium, data collected from the independent gill net survey, has shown no expansion of either the abundance of Striped Bass or the age structure of the stock. In fact, as I recall these indices were now the lowest, they’ve ever seen.

In response to their comments, MFC Chairman Rob Bizzell questioned whether they would normally see increases in abundance and age structure in just 3 years and quite frankly I was disappointed in the response or lack thereof. The truth is, abundance is directly affected by recruitment (reproduction) which is highly dependent on environmental factors and therefore is almost impossible to predict or manage, the same cannot be said for age structure. Age structure is a direct result of the survival of existing fish, in this case two strong year classes of Striped Bass which were three to four years old at the time the net ban was adopted. Each year these fish survive increases the age structure by one year meaning, if the management actions increased the survival rate, 3+ years of management would have resulted in the age structure expanding to include fish of 6-8 years of age.

If the nets were the problem, where are the older fish?

With the nets out of the water, recreational catch and release mortality has to be the dominant source of mortality, as all harvest has been eliminated and natural mortality decreases with age. Unfortunately, these points were not driven home by the Division.

To sum it up, in 2019 the data provided to the Commission pointed to recreational discard mortality being more significant than gill net discards and the data collected since, certainly seems to support that conclusion.

Despite all of the information suggesting that the net ban has not increased survival in this fishery and was never supported by science in the first place the MFC chose to extend the net ban two more years claiming more data was necessary to assess the results. That’s right, the Commissions approach is to remove the nets in hopes that somewhere down the road the data will justify their actions!

So much for fair management!

Another issue of great importance to commercial fishermen was taken up by the Commission last week, the supplement to the Striped Mullet FMP. On this issue the data was not nearly as clear as with the net ban.

In fact, the most recent stock assessment for Striped Mullet which indicated the stock was overfished with overfishing occurring is, in my opinion, as data poor as any assessment I’ve seen. This probably explains the dramatic difference in results from the assessment completed just 4 years earlier which showed the stock was not experiencing overfishing. You’re probably thinking that it’s entirely possible that overfishing could have occurred over the 4-year period between assessments and, if so, you’d be right but that’s not what the recent assessment shows. The new assessment shows that there is a 80% probability that overfishing has been occurring for nearly two decades. You’re probably wondering how four new years of data changed the stock status for two decades and you’re not alone. After looking at the assessment, my best guess is that it’s not the last four years of data but the overall quality, or lack thereof, of the data that’s creating the high degree of uncertainty. While the drastic difference in the results of these two stock assessments has certainly raised some eyebrows, even more concerning is the fact that the most recent assessment results don’t seem to match what’s occurring in the fishery. Fishermen are reporting more and larger mullet in our states waters and commercial landings are increasing. According to Division staff, their independent surveys also seem to be showing signs of improvement which is telling to me given the extreme limitations of these surveys. I’ve always said that a high degree of uncertainty should always slow down decision making, not speed it up, but with fisheries management, at least here in NC, that’s seldom the case.

The Commission ignored the uncertainty, choosing not to look at the most recent three years of data before acting, and voted to close the harvest of Striped Mullet on November 7, 2023, through the end of that year, a 22% reduction in commercial harvest. This season closure will remain in place until an Amendment to the FMP has been approved, at which time it can be incorporated as part of the amendment or replaced by other management measures.

On the net ban issue there was absolutely no data to support the adoption or continuation of the measure, but the Commission moved forward with both, supposedly in search of new data. On the other hand, with Striped Mullet, there was already new data, suggesting things aren’t as bad as the stock assessment showed, but they chose not to consider any new data and, once again, cut commercial access to our fisheries resources. Damned if we do and damned if we don’t!

It’s obvious to me that a majority of this Commission has a much different interpretation of our states statutes than I do, or they have chosen to ignore those statutes and arbitrarily regulate based solely on their own will. Maybe an interpretation of those statutes is necessary to clear up this confusion.

Fortunately, there are those Commissioners who are trying to fairly manage our fisheries, despite being outnumbered and constantly attacked. One such Commissioner, Sarah Gardner, made it clear that she intended to do the right thing no matter what the cost. Her passionate words gave new meaning to the outdated phrase “the fairer sex” and shined, much needed, light on the true issues hampering North Carolinas fishery management process. I applaud her nerve and conviction and encourage all Commissioners to follow her example.

Unfortunately, the personal attacks against her have already begun and will certainly continue until she complies with the CCA agenda or quits. I urge Sarah to hang in there, stick to her guns, follow her heart, and avoid the more apples for me mentality!

Glenn Skinner

NCFA-Executive Director

[email protected]

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: 11.21.2022

GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS

The computer files for the NC General Assembly have been updated to reflect the results of the recent election. Next will be the addition of email addresses and committee assignments but that info won’t be available for several weeks. In the meantime, we attempt to get into holiday mood, as in happy, jolly and positive. That is difficult if you’re in the fish business, but spiritually important. It would help our attitudes greatly if the Marine Fisheries Commission didn’t meet so close to Thanksgiving. That crowd can sure take the jolly out of an otherwise joyous season.

Regardless, there’s much to be thankful for!

God bless, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Jerry

[email protected]

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for November 14, 2022

November 2022 NC Marine Fisheries Commision Meeting – The MFC meeting is being held in Emerald Isle, NC November 16th-18th at the Islander Hotel (102 Islander Dr, Emerald Isle, NC 28594). The 2022 election is now history and it’s time to begin updating the contact information for the US Senate & House and the North Carolina General Assembly. >click to read the meeting agenda, and the update< 14:44

North Carolina Fisheries Association: Weekly Update for October 10, 2022

Last Tuesday evening (October 4,2022) I attended a striped mullet scoping meeting where staff from the NC Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) were seeking stakeholder input for the future management of the mullet fishery. DMF staff certainly got an ear full of “input”, mostly in the form of questions and comments about the most recent Striped Mullet Stock assessment. The 2022 Striped Mullet assessment, which used data through 2019 indicated that overfishing is occurring, and that North Carolinas Striped Mullet stock is overfished, and apparently has been for two decades or more. This came as a shock for the fishermen in attendance for a couple of reasons. ->Click here to read the Weekly Update<, to read all the updates >click here<, for older updates listed as NCFA >click here< 12:32

North Carolina Fisheries Association

Last Tuesday evening (October 4,2022) I attended a striped mullet scoping meeting where staff from the NC Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) were seeking stakeholder input for the future management of the mullet fishery. DMF staff certainly got an ear full of “input”, mostly in the form of questions and comments about the most recent Striped Mullet Stock assessment. The 2022 Striped Mullet assessment (Click Here to Open), which used data through 2019 indicated that overfishing is occurring, and that North Carolinas Striped Mullet stock is overfished, and apparently has been for two decades or more. This came as a shock for the fishermen in attendance for a couple of reasons.

First, for the last two to three years, which were not included in the assessment, fishermen have been seeing increasing numbers of mullet in our state waters leading many to believe the stock is expanding. Second, and even more concerning, is the fact that the last assessment, completed in 2018, which used data from 1994 to 2017 indicated that overfishing was not occurring, and the stock was not overfished, nor had it ever been.

That’s right, in just four years the stock went from never having been “overfished” to now having been “overfished” for decades! As you might imagine, this has left many fishermen frustrated and questioning how this is even possible.

Afterall, we only have two years of new data since the last assessment. How can two years of commercial harvest data and DMF sampling change the stock status for two decades? The short answer is that two additional years of data and the stock status aren’t the only things that have changed.

The first Striped Mullet stock assessment was completed in the early 2000’s, during the development of the Striped Mullet Fishery Management Plan (FMP), using data from 1994-2002 and concluded that overfishing was not occurring. In 2013, the “Benchmark Assessment” was completed using the same assessment model as the previous assessment and updated data from 1994-2011 and, once again, it was determined that overfishing was not occurring.

Now, common sense would suggest that once a stock assessment was completed, peer reviewed, and accepted for management that the same sources of data, overfishing thresholds/targets, and assessment models would be used for future reviews, with the only new information being the most recent years of data. Unfortunately, common sense evidently has no place in the world of fisheries management.

Since the 2013 benchmark assessment, one Amendment and two assessments have been completed, resulting in new overfishing targets/thresholds, the exclusion of multiple sources of data, an extended time series (1950-2019) and a dramatic change in stock status. It may be hard for you to believe that these seemingly insignificant changes can have such a dramatic impact on abundance estimates, but it can, and this isn’t the first time it’s happened!

In 2009, DMF completed the Spotted Sea trout (Speckled Trout) stock assessment which indicated that the fishery had been overfished with overfishing occurring for the entire time series (1991-2006), 18 years.

An update of that assessment which included data from 2007 and 2008 resulted in the same conclusion, overfished and overfishing for 20 years, at least, possibly longer if they had included data prior to 1991. The results of this stock assessment, which was peer reviewed and accepted for management, led to the adoption of strict harvest reductions (40%) for both commercial and recreational sectors, through the FMP in 2012.

Three short years later, in 2015, another assessment was completed. This new assessment utilized a different computer model, changed the fishing year from a calendar year to a biological year (March 1- February 28), decreased the maximum age of Speckled Trout from 12 to 9, and added new tagging data, which according to DMF did not have a significant influence on results.

Once again, a few, seemingly minor, changes to the assessment produced radically different results. The Speckled Trout stock, which had previously been overfished for at least two decades was now not overfished or experiencing overfishing and never had been, not even for the two decades from 1991-2008!

You’re probably thinking at least this drastic change was a positive one. Afterall, if the stock isn’t overfished there’s no further need for the 40% harvest reduction.

Right? Wrong!

Ten years later and the strict harvest reductions meant to rebuild a stock which had been overfished for two decades are still in place despite the new determination that the stock has never been overfished!

It’s no wonder that the fishermen who attended the mullet scoping meeting were so frustrated, they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. With such drastic changes from one assessment to another, how can anyone commercial, recreational, consumer, or scientist have any faith in these results?

Would a couple of minor changes to the Southern Flounder assessment have saved us from these draconian 72% harvest reductions?

From what I’ve seen I’d say absolutely!

The question is, which assessment is right? If any!

Should we have used data from 1994-2019 or 1950-2019? Should the overfishing threshold be raised or lowered?

How long do Speckled Trout live? (I found ranges from 8 years to 18 years) Do mature Southern Flounder return to NC estuaries after spawning or remain offshore?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers to these questions and, to be frank, it doesn’t appear that anyone else does either. What I do know is that the decisions DMF staff make have a dramatic impact on these assessments and the citizens of this State. I also know that our states statutes and outside pressures often force them to take action even when uncertainty is extremely high.

That said, we deserve better and should demand better and I firmly believe the State can do better for all stakeholders not just a fortunate few.

Glenn Skinner

NCFA-Executive Director

[email protected]

North Carolina Fisheries Association: Weekly Update for September 12, 2022

Last week the US House Committee on Natural Resources marked up a bill on the Magnuson Act reauthorization. The late Congressman from Alaska, Don Young, was pushing for a different version that most of the commercial industry supported, but after he died a different version has been pushed. Named “Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act or HR 4690, the bill is up for final committee approval on September 29th. Previous reauthorizations were more of a bi-partisan effort, but this is more partisan with Democrats supporting the bill and Republicans opposing. >click to read<. To read all the updates >click here<, for older updates listed as NCFA >click here<  15:50

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update September 12, 2022

For decades now, the CCA has done their best to turn “bycatch” into a four-letter word, especially commercial bycatch. They’ve used the term “bycatch” to justify their failed attempts to enact net bans and gamefish bills! They’ve used the term “bycatch” to justify banning shrimp trawling in North Carolina! They’ve used the term “bycatch” to justify almost every current restriction on commercial fishermen and commercial fishing gear! >click to read<. To read all the updates >click here<, for older updates listed as NCFA >click here< 09:18

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update September 12, 2022

Below is a call to action sent out by David Sneed, Executive Director of the Coastal Conservation Association of NC (CCA), asking anglers to attend next weeks meeting of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and oppose proposed measures to rebuild the overfished Red Snapper stock. The measures opposed by the CCA, time and area fishing closures and the implementation of a federal reef fish permit, are meant to reduce mortality and improve the understanding of recreational effort in the Red Snapper fishery, which the most recent assessment suggests is overfished with overfishing occurring.

CALL TO ACTION

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council meets next week in Charleston and two items on the agenda are of particular significance to offshore anglers. In Snapper Grouper Fishery Regulatory Amendment 35, NOAA Fisheries is attempting to force massive time and area closures that would result in severe, negative economic and cultural impacts to recreational fishing, boating, and coastal communities in the South Atlantic in order to prevent red snapper mortality even as bycatch. While the red snapper population is now regarded as abundant as it has ever been in modern times, NOAA Fisheries is insisting that more severe restrictions are necessary to rebuild the population to a fully recovered status. According to NOAA Fisheries, that status cannot be bestowed until older fish – 30, 40 and even 50 years old – are present in the population, which means these severe restrictions could be in place for decades.

Coastal Conservation Association has urged caution during the recovery of red snapper from historic lows, but is objecting to the massive closures as completely misguided in the face of a booming red snapper population. Among the many objections to the current proposal:

1.     An independent assessment of the red snapper population is now underway – CCA is urging the Council to delay any decisions until the results of that assessment are known and verified. A similar assessment in the Gulf of Mexico produced a completely new understanding of the red snapper population there.

2.     Recreational discard data is perhaps the least reliable in the entire management system, relying solely on angler recall and interpretation. New data collection systems – designed and managed by the states – are desperately needed for more timely and accurate estimates.

3.     Federal fisheries management must be reformed to address the absurdity of a stock being declared above historic abundance, yet still being classified as overfished and undergoing overfishing, and therefore subject to wildly inappropriate regulations.

The other related item up for discussion next week is Snapper Grouper Amendment 46, which is exploring implementation of a federal reef fish permit. CCA has long supported better data and efforts to define the universe of anglers for improved management. As noted above, there is a critical need for more accurate and timely estimates of the recreational catch and discards. However, NOAA Fisheries track record of recreational management is exceptionally poor.

If a mechanism is needed to improve recreational data in the South Atlantic, CCA is urging South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia to join Florida in creating state-based systems to provide more timely and accurate data for management of the recreational sector. Nothing in NOAA Fisheries management history of the recreational sector indicates a federal permit will produce the desired results or be used entirely as originally intended. Given recent comments from federal managers, CCA is concerned such a permit in federal hands will eventually be proposed to limit entry in the recreational fishery.

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is meeting Sept. 12-16 at the Town & Country Inn, 2008 Savannah Highway Charleston, South Carolina. The public can make comments to the Council at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 14. The public may also submit online comments HERE.

In the CCA’s call to action, Sneed states “NOAA Fisheries is attempting to force massive time and area closures that would result in severe, negative economic and cultural impacts to recreational fishing, boating, and coastal communities in the South Atlantic in order to prevent red snapper mortality, even as bycatch.”

Even as bycatch! Really?

 For decades now, the CCA has done their best to turn “bycatch” into a four-letter word, especially commercial bycatch.

They’ve used the term “bycatch” to justify their failed attempts to enact net bans and gamefish bills! They’ve used the term “bycatch” to justify banning shrimp trawling in North Carolina! They’ve used the term “bycatch” to justify almost every current restriction on commercial fishermen and commercial fishing gear! They’ve used the term “bycatch” to justify their constant support for draconian harvest reductions for both the commercial and recreational sectors! They’ve used the term bycatch to divide the recreational and commercial communities, turning neighbor against neighbor!

But now they have the nerve to say “even as bycatch” as if the CCA has no concerns at all over bycatch.

Why?

The truth is, the CCA uses terms like overfished, overfishing, cryptic mortality, overharvest, and bycatch to push for reduced harvest for both commercial fishermen and recreational anglers because it benefits them not the resource.

Need proof? Well, here it is!

In the late 90’s the CCA pushed for strict recreational and commercial restrictions in the Red Drum fishery which led to the current, 18–27-inch slot limit, 250,000 lb. annual commercial harvest cap, gill net attendance requirements, and 1 fish daily recreational bag limit. Over two decades later, these restrictions remain in place mostly due to a lack of data, not lack of fish. But rather than push for better data collection or discourage anglers from targeting these fish until the stock is deemed recovered, the CCA encourages anglers to target Red Drum, even the spawning stock, going so far as to hold fishing tournaments for this supposedly imperiled stock.

The CCA took a similar position on the management of Striped Bass where they supported strict harvest reductions, even a 10-year harvest moratorium, but opposed area or seasonal closures to prevent the targeting of Striped Bass on their spawning grounds. Once again, the CCA encourages anglers to target an “overfished”, stock, even on the spawning grounds, and holds fishing tournaments targeting Striped Bass despite the fact that recreational dead discards have become one of the dominant sources of Striped Bass mortality.

CCA NC Inside/Out Catch and Release Fishing Tournament | iAnglerTournament

The same strategy was used, by the CCA, in the Southern Flounder fishery where they pushed for, and received, a 72% harvest reduction resulting in a harvest quota for both the recreational and commercial sectors based on total removals (harvest and dead discards), paybacks for quota overages, short harvest seasons and a 1 flounder daily recreational bag limit.

While many anglers patiently wait for the flounder harvest season to open, others, encouraged by the CCA, target Southern Flounder outside of the harvest season, participating in the CCA’s catch and release tournament, increasing dead discards which count against the already low recreational quota!

CCA NC 2022 Inshore Open | iAnglerTournament

 Holding fishing tournaments for “overfished” species, targeting the spawning stock, and increasing waste through increased recreational dead discards doesn’t sound like “conservation” does it?

The truth is, the CCA only supports the “conservative” approach when it results in a direct reduction in harvest and increased access/allocation for themselves, the catch and release sector.

Still not sure? Let’s take a look at Red Snapper.

The CCA seems to have no issue with a 2-to-3 day recreational harvest season and 1 fish daily bag limit for Red Snapper but opposes time and area closures to decrease “bycatch” removals in the form of dead discards. According to NOAA Fisheries data, in the 5-year time period from 2015-2019 91,300 Red Snapper were removed through recreational harvest and 2,803,280 Red Snapper died as a result of recreational dead discards.

That’s right, waste, or recreational dead discards of Red Snapper exceed recreational harvest by more than 30x, but the CCA is willing to jeopardize all recreational harvest and the stocks potential to fully recover just to protect their ability to catch and release fish.

What a privileged group they must be to proclaim a memory is more valuable than a meal!

The CCA argues that “recreational discard data is perhaps the least reliable in the entire management system, relying solely on angler recall and interpretation.”

Of course, the same could be said for all of the fisheries mentioned above, but it never was, at least not by the CCA. When recreational discard data, as unreliable as it certainly is, is used to reduce harvest the CCA quickly becomes a champion of the resource, demanding that managers ignore the economic consequences and manage solely for the resource.

But, when the shoes on the other foot and catch and release access is threatened, they shift from conservationist to capitalist begging managers to consider the “severe, negative economic and cultural impacts to recreational fishing, boating, and coastal communities.”

The sad truth is, the CCA speak for themselves not the resource and while their message seeks to hide this truth their actions clearly expose their true agenda. Another sad truth, is fisheries managers across this country have, for the most part, ignored the impacts of “sport fishing” and the countless millions of dead and wasted fish that have fallen victim to the catch and release “conservation strategy.”

Now let me be clear, I’m not opposed to catch and release fishing, fishing for personal consumption or commercial fishing, they all have their place. That said, the law requires fair and equitable management of our fisheries and that cannot be accomplished until all sources of mortality, even catch and release mortality, are addressed and all stakeholders feel the sting of management, not just those who harvest fish.

Until managers reject this modern concept of “conservation” and address the impacts of recreational discard mortality the concepts of sustainable fisheries and fair and equitable management are nothing more than a farce.

The CCA’s strategy reduces harvest, increases mortality and waste, slows or even prevents rebuilding, and assures unprecedented and unlimited access to the privileged few who fish solely for fun, not food.

Once again, rules for thee, not for me!

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update August 29, 2022

At the August Marine Fisheries Commission (MFC) meeting, Amendment 2 to the Striped Bass FMP and the unjustified net ban in the upper Neuse and Pamlico Rivers was on the agenda once again.  Amendment 2 was up for final approval by the MFC, which we strongly opposed as long as the continuation of the net ban in the upper Neuse and Pamlico Rivers is incorporated into the Amendment. The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) of NC, on the other hand, seemed to support the final approval of Amendment 2, only if the net ban remains part of the FMP. Surprised? Probably not, after all for decades the CCA has pushed for a net ban and, for decades, the NCFA has opposed this extreme agenda, making the gill net debate a constant source of friction at virtually every fisheries meeting. Another constant through the years has been the CCAs willingness to misinform and misuse data to support their agenda and the August MFC meeting was no exception. >click to continue reading< 18:49

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for August 15, 2022

In our last update I asked our readers to evaluate the factuality of the CCA’s messaging and let us know how many misleading statements, half-truths, and outright lies they could find. Not surprisingly, we didn’t get many of our readers to take us up on our request. The truth is, I was surprised that one, Raynor James, did write up a response and a very good one at that! (Attached below) I was surprised because the point I was trying to make is, that most people know very little about our commercial fisheries and have neither the time nor desire to do their own research and attempt to separate fact from fiction. A fact the Coastal Conservation Association is certainly aware of, which is why they are so comfortable misleading North Carolinians. >click to read< 12:27

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for 08/01/2022

If you’re a regular reader of the NCFA’s weekly newsletter, you’ve seen many articles lately pointing out the dis-information being distributed by the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) of North Carolina. Unfortunately, they make it very easy to find a new subject to write about each week, so in fact, I bet almost anyone can do it. Even you! So, that said, let’s see if our readers have learned anything over the last couple of months. I challenge everyone who reads this to go to the CCA NC website, click on “Advocacy” and read the following position papers. >click to read<, To read all the updates >click here<, for older updates listed as NCFA >click here< 12:56

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for 08/01/2022

If you’re a regular reader of the NCFA’s weekly newsletter, you’ve seen many articles lately pointing out the dis-information being distributed by the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) of North Carolina. Unfortunately, they make it very easy to find a new subject to write about each week, so in fact, I bet almost anyone can do it.

Even you!

So, that said, let’s see if our readers have learned anything over the last couple of months. I challenge everyone who reads this to go to the CCA NC
website, click on “Advocacy” and read the following position papers.

• Striped Bass IN the CSMA
• Inshore Shrimp Trawling
• Hidden Cost of Gill nets
• Striped Bass Letter by Chris Elkins

See how many misleading statements, half-truths, and outright lies you can find in each position paper and let us know by commenting on our Facebook page or by sending us an email. I’m curious to see how many of you care enough about North Carolina’s fishing families and fresh local seafood to take the time to read this “stuff” and help the NCFA set the record straight.

Don’t let me down!

Take the time to educate yourself, educate your neighbors, and champion the truth!

Glenn Skinner, NCFA Executive Director

 

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for July 18, 2022

Does CPR Work on Fish? The Coastal Conservation Association Seems to Think SO! – After reading this title you’re probably envisioning a forty-pound Red Drum lying on the deck of a boat, straddled by an angler, receiving mouth to mouth followed by a round of rapid chest compressions, but that’s not the CPR I’m referring to. The CPR I’m talking about is the Coastal Conservation Association’s (CCA) Catch, Photo, and Release (CPR) Initiative. In Coastal States across the Country, including North Carolina, the CCA is holding CPR fishing tournaments where anglers can win big prizes for catching, photographing, and releasing numerous species of coastal finfish. The rules are simple, pay your entry fee, receive your wristband, catch a qualifying species of fish, photograph the fish lying on a ruler with your wristband visible, release the fish, and the longest fish or combination of fish wins. And of course, you have to be a CCA member to win! >click to read, to read all the updates >click here<, for older updates listed as NCFA >click here< 11:15

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for July 11, 2022

We cannot emphasize enough how important it is for commercial fishermen and others associated with the seafood industry to take an active interest in the November general election. Find out who the candidates are and where they stand on the issues that are important to you. If you need to know who is on the ballot this November for the NC Senate and House in your district, let us know and we’ll get that information to you. Candidates need your support by your vote and financially. >Click here to read the Weekly Update<, to read all the updates >click here<, for older updates listed as NCFA >click here< 09:26

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for June 6, 2022

The MFC voted on May 26th to continue with the gill net closure in the Neuse and Pamlico rivers and directed DMF to study the impacts of removing the gill nets as their preferred management option. But this time the reason for continuing the gill net closure was different. At the meeting, Commissioner Tom Roller said; “In saying that this is an allocation fight, you are right. So, when NCFA comes here and says there is no scientific evidence for removing gill nets, what they are saying is I want my allocation. Yeah, that’s exactly what it is. So, it’s an allocation by the retention of gill nets. Cause a dead fish is a dead fish, right? A dead fish is a dead fish and you have to ask what is the greater value to the economy? And in most cases, and many cases, not all cases, it’s recreational.” I’m confused. . >click to read<. To read all the updates >click here<, for older updates listed as NCFA >click here< 16:16

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for May 30, 2022

Finally! An issue both the CCA and NCFA agree on. Do you believe in miracles? If not, you should. On May 25, at the meeting of the North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission, David Sneed, Executive Director of the CCA NC, made the following statement during the public comment period. “On Southern Flounder, the recent recreational overages were the result of derby fishing brought about by insufficient management action from Amendment 2. Harvest and overage estimates that are provided by MRIP were never intended to be used to manage a fishery through a quota,,, Sound familiar? If you’re one of our regular readers it should. . >click to read<. To read all the updates >click here<, for older updates listed as NCFA >click here< 11:51

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for May 23, 2022

The NCFA urges everyone to offer comments on draft Amendment 2 to the Striped Bass FMP, to the NC Marine Fisheries Commission at their May 25-26 meeting, supporting lifting the prohibition on the use of gill nets in the upper Neuse and Pamlico Rivers. In 2019 the MFC, through an “emergency meeting” with no public comment allowed, voted to force former DMF Director Steve Murphey to issue a proclamation prohibiting the use of all gill nets above the Ferry lines in the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers. Prior to this emergency meeting the MFC had asked Director Murphey to issue the gill net ban, a request he declined, in the letter below, as it was not supported by science. . >click to read<. To read all the updates >click here<, for older updates listed as NCFA >click here<  17:28

Fisheries commission meeting set for Thursday, Friday in Beaufort>click to read<

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for May 23, 2022 – 1

The NCFA urges everyone to offer comments on draft Amendment 2 to the Striped Bass FMP, to the NC Marine Fisheries Commission at their May 25-26 meeting, supporting lifting the prohibition on the use of gill nets in the upper Neuse and Pamlico Rivers.
In 2019 the MFC, through an “emergency meeting” with no public comment allowed, voted to force former DMF Director Steve Murphey to issue a proclamation prohibiting the use of all gill nets above the Ferry lines in the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers. Prior to this emergency meeting the MFC had asked Director Murphey to issue the gill net ban, a request he declined, in the letter below, as it was not supported by science.
In response to the MFC’s actions DEQ Secretary Michael Regan issued the press release below condemning their actions. To our knowledge, this is the only time an acting Secretary has ever issued a press release publicly condemning any act of the Marine Fisheries Commission.
The below press release was issued in 2019
Release: IMMEDIATE
Contact: Megan S. Thorpe
Date: March 14, 2019
Phone: 919-618-0968
Secretary Regan’s Statement on Marine Fisheries
Commission’s Non-Emergency
RALEIGH — N.C. Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael S. Regan issued the following statement on the emergency meeting called by the Marine Fisheries Commission this week:
I am disappointed by the Marine Fisheries Commission calling an emergency meeting with only 48 hours notice for a non-emergency. The Commission used bad judgment in directing the Division of Marine Fisheries Director to take actions that contradict science and the recommendations of the division’s scientists. I certainly hope this is not a precedent we will see again from this Commission.
The statute empowering the Marine Fisheries Commission to direct issuance of gill net bans in certain areas does not authorize the Secretary or the Department discretion to
overturn such a directive.
nr-26-2019
Three years later, the only quantifiable impact of this net ban has been the negative impact to commercial fishermen and consumers. Amendment 2, to the Striped Bass FMP is the only opportunity, outside of a courtroom, to right this intolerable wrong. It is imperative that everyone voices their opposition to the continuation of this unnecessary net ban!
The CCA and likely some of the MFC members who support their agenda wish to see this net ban extended to close the entire Neuse and Pamlico Rivers to the use of all gill nets, with no scientific justification for doing so. If they were to succeed, how long will it be before they attempt to close all inside waters to gillnetting?
We strongly urge everyone to demand that the MFC lift these net bans and return to the gill net regulations which were in place prior to the 2019 prohibition.
For more information you can reach out to NCFA Executive Director, Glenn skinner.
252-646-7742
Glenn Skinner
Executive Director-
North Carolina Fisheries Association, Inc.
101 N. 5th Street
Morehead City NC 28557
252-646-7742
MEDIA ADVISORY: Marine Fisheries Commission to meet May 25-26 in Beaufort
MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will meet in-person May 25-26 at the Beaufort Hotel,
2440 Lennoxville Road, Beaufort. The meeting will also be livestreamed on YouTube.
The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 25 and at 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 26.
The commission will hold in-person public comment sessions at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 25 and near the beginning of the meeting on Thursday, May 26. Public comment will not be taken through web conference.
The following information pertains to in-person public comment:
· Those who wish to speak may sign up at the hotel beginning at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 25.
· To accommodate as many speakers as possible, the chair will limit each speaker to 3 minutes.
· Those making comments will be asked to speak only once, either Wednesday night or Thursday morning, but not during both public comment periods.
· Those who wish to submit handouts to the commission during a public comment period should bring at least 12 copies to the meeting.
The public may also submit written comments via the following methods:
· An online form accessible through the Marine Fisheries Commission Meeting webpage.
· Mail to May 2022 Marine Fisheries Commission Meeting Comments, P.O Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557.
· Dropped off at the Division of Marine Fisheries’ Morehead City Headquarters Office at 3441 Arendell St., Morehead City.
Written comments must be received by 4 p.m. Monday, May 23.
The YouTube link will be posted on the Marine Fisheries Commission Meeting webpage. After the meeting, a recording will be posted online.
Agenda items include:
·        Final approval of Amendment 3 to the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan.
·        Final approval of the N.C. Fishery Management Plan for Interjurisdictional Fisheries Information Update.
·        Selection of preferred management for Amendment 2 to the Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan.
·        Presentation on the 2022 Striped Mullet Stock Assessment Report.
WHO:
N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission
WHAT:
Quarterly Business Meeting
WHEN:
May 25 at 6 p.m.
May 26 at 9 a.m.
WHERE:
The Beaufort Hotel
2440 Lennoxville Road, Beaufort
PARKING:
Click Here for Aerial Photo of Free Event Parking Area
Valet Parking: $15.00
(Tell Valet You Are Attending Marine Fisheries Meeting)
LIVE STREAM:
Click here for links

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for May 16, 2022

NCWF…Sounds a lot like the CCA’s approach to messaging. Doesn’t it? A couple of weeks ago I had a call from a friend who is not a fisherman, recreational or commercial, but has taken an interest in fisheries management. He reached out to ask me about the North Carolina Wildlife Federation (NCWF), as he had seen them mentioned in several of our weekly newsletters but was having trouble finding their fisheries positions on the NCWF website. >click to read<. To read all the updates >click here<, for older updates listed as NCFA >click here< 09:41

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for May 02, 2022

The “Rule of Law” is the political philosophy that all citizens are accountable for the same laws. This philosophy helped fuel the American revolution and was a key principle considered, by our founding fathers, when drafting the U.S Constitution. The Rule of Law ensures, that in a true democracy, the powerful, wealthy, or majority can’t use the law to oppress or control the minority. When it comes to regulating our coastal fisheries both the government and our state seem to struggle with this relatively simple concept. Simply put, it doesn’t matter whether you fish for food, profit, or pleasure, your impacts are similar and therefore you must be treated similarly under the law! Perhaps it’s time for another revolution! >click to read< to read all the updates >click here<, for older updates listed as NCFA >click here< 18:43

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for April 25, 2022

Is North Carolina allowing fishermen to circumvent the Endangered Species Act? On April 6, 2022, the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) of North Carolina sent out an email with so much disinformation I can’t even begin to address it all in one article. The email contained many of the same half-truths and outright lies we’ve been exposing over the last few months but one, above all, really rubbed me the wrong way. The CCA claimed that the “use of gill nets continues in North Carolina waters because the state holds two permits on behalf of commercial fishermen that allow them to circumvent the Endangered Species Act protections and kill or harm endangered sea turtles and sturgeon.” Circumvent. Really? >click to read the WeeklyUpdate<, to read all the updates >click here<, for older updates listed as NCFA >click here< 08:58

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for April 11, 2022

A recent study conducted by researchers at LSU shows that Southern Flounder Stocks have declined throughout their entire range from North Carolina to Texas. The study was triggered by dramatic declines in the number of Southern Flounder in Louisiana waters. In 2017, Louisiana’s recreational Southern Flounder harvest declined to a mere 124,000 pounds, down from a high of 624,000 pounds in 2013. The findings of the LSU study fly directly in the face of claims made by the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) of NC and the NC Wildlife Federation (NCWF), who suggests that decline of Southern Flounder is solely a NC issue caused by commercial fishing, specifically gillnetting. >Click here to read the Weekly Update<, to read all the updates >click here<, for older updates listed as NCFA >click here<

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for April 04, 2022

Over the last couple of months, many NC anglers have reached out to the NCFA seeking to get a better understanding of what’s really going on in the world of fisheries management here in North Carolina. That said, there have been several anglers who have questioned our assessment of the CCA’s true agenda, which in our opinion is to reduce or even eliminate harvest of wild fish stocks in both the commercial and recreational sectors.  I had an angler from Pamlico County tell me that the CCA had assured him that once the nets were gone recreational bag limits for Red Drum, Southern Flounder, and Speckled Trout would increase and nothing I write could convince him otherwise. This got me thinking that maybe he and other anglers would be more receptive to the truth if someone else wrote it. >click to read the attached article< 16:40

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update, March 28, 2022 – Seafood Consumers Beware

Seafood Consumers Beware The post below was made by the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) of North Carolina. After decades of promising NC anglers more fish and then supporting every recreational harvest reduction that’s been proposed, over the last 25 years, it appears the CCA has shifted its focus to North Carolina’s seafood consumers. I guess they’ve taken all they can from the anglers who like to harvest a mess of fish but feel seafood consumers still have more to give. While their message seems innocent enough, expressing a love of seafood and concern for the stock, don’t be fooled! >click to read< 19:50

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for March 21, 2022

Last week, on March 15,16, and 17th, the Northern Regional, Southern Regional, and Finfish Advisory Committees met to make recommendations, for the Marine Fisheries Commission to consider, on Amendment 2 to the Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan! There was very little public comment, about a half dozen each night, with the NCFA being the only fisheries group offering comments. We focused on a single issue, allowing the use of gillnets above the ferry lines in the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers, which the MFC chose to remove from the draft Amendment before allowing public or AC input. >click to read the update< 13:24

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Newsletter/Update for March14, 2022

In February of 2022, the North Carolina Fisheries Commission (MFC) reviewed draft Amendment 2 to the Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and approved the draft Amendment to be sent out for public comment and review by the standing Advisory Committees. Prior to approving the draft, a majority of the MFC voted to remove any option, that would allow the possibility of allowing the use of gill nets, above the ferry lines in the Tar-Pamlico and Neuse Rivers, from draft Amendment 2. This vote, in my opinion, was nothing more than an effort, by the MFC, to censor the public and Advisory Committees on an issue they do not wish to discuss. Which raises a very important question. Who’s advising who? >click to read the update, meeting dates< 12:09

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Newsletter/Update

In February of 2022, the North Carolina Fisheries Commission (MFC) reviewed draft Amendment 2 to the Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and approved the draft Amendment to be sent out for public comment and review by the standing Advisory Committees. Prior to approving the draft, a majority of the MFC voted to remove any option, that would allow the possibility of allowing the use of gill nets, above the ferry lines in the Tar-Pamlico and Neuse Rivers, from draft Amendment 2. This vote, in my opinion, was nothing more than an effort, by the MFC, to censor the public and Advisory Committees on an issue they do not wish to discuss. Which raises a very important question.
 Who’s advising who?
Both the public and Standing Advisory Committee were meant to play a very important role in our fisheries management process by advising the MFC, prior to their deliberations on management options. The current MFC chose to deliberate whether gill nets should be allowed, prior to the options being reviewed by either the public or AC’s , and through a majority vote decided to advise the public and Advisory Committees, not to even consider allowing the use of gill nets above the ferry lines.
If that’s not a perfect example of the tail wagging the dog, I don’t know what is!
This whole debate over gill nets above the Pamlico and Neuse River ferry lines began in February of 2019 when the MFC passed supplement A to the Striped Bass FMP, which eliminated the harvest of Striped Bass in the Central Management Area. After the approval of Supplement A, several Commissioners requested that the DMF Director at that time, Steve Murphey, issue a proclamation banning the use of gill nets above the ferry lines. Director Murphey, through the attached letter declined their request and provided sound justification for doing so.
In this letter, Director Murphey stated that “after careful consideration I have concluded that such a measure is not supported by the scientific data that support gill nets as the primary or even the most significant source of discard mortality” and provided an in-depth explanation of how he came to this conclusion.
Despite the lack of scientific justification for banning the use of gill nets above the ferry lines, or anywhere else for that matter, the MFC, at an emergency meeting in March of 2019, voted to force Director Murphey to issue the proclamation and banned the use of gill nets above the Neuse and Pamlico River ferries.
Immediately after the March MFC meeting DEQ Secretary Michael Reagan, issued a press release condemning the actions of the MFC. In the press release, Secretary Reagan expressed his concern with the MFC for calling an emergency meeting for a non-emergency and said “the commission used bad judgement in directing the Division of Marine Fisheries Director to take actions that contradict science and the recommendations of the division scientist. I certainly hope this is not a precedent we will see again from this Commission.”
He went on to state that “The statute empowering the Marine Fisheries Commission to direct issuance of gill net bans in certain areas does not authorize the Secretary or the Department discretion to overturn such a directive” implying that if he had the authority, he would have overturned the net ban.
Unfortunately, “this Commission” has, once again, shown “bad judgement” by attempting to uphold their net ban and censor the input from both the public and their own Advisory Committees. Their actions have shown a total disregard for science and contempt for the management process and the seafood industry. In the absence of a sound scientific argument, many anglers who support the net ban, have found other, more creative, arguments to justify the continuation, or even the expansion, of the Neuse and Pamlico River net bans.
The most popular argument seems to be that the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico Striped Bass Stocks are made up mostly of hatchery reared fish, stocked into these river systems by the WRC. Fish, they claim, were bought and paid for solely by anglers. While its true that millions of stripers have been stocked into these systems by the WRC and that recent data suggests without stocking of hatchery reared fish the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico stocks will likely decline, their claim of sole ownership falls short, in my opinion.
The stocking of “sport fish”, like striped bass, in NC and many other states is primarily funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service through the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. These funds are derived from federal excise taxes and import duties collected on various items such as, fishing tackle, electronics, (fish finders, trolling motors) pleasure boats and yachts, and a portion of the federal gas taxes attributed to motorboat fuel and small outdoor engines (lawnmowers, snowblowers, chainsaws etc.).
While I’m still not certain how the government determines what percentage of the gas sold in the US goes into motorboats and small outdoor engines. I am sure that this portion of the Federal gas tax represents the majority of the revenue generated for the sport fishing Restoration and Boating Trust Fund annually.
In recent years the portion of the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax all Americans pay, that is attributed to motorboat and small engine use, has accounted for approximately 70% of these funds averaging $600,000,000 to $700,000,000 per year.
This said, it’s safe to assume that a significant portion of the funds distributed, to NC and other states, for fish stocking programs is generated by non-anglers such as commercial fishermen and seafood consumers.
Afterall it’s hard to imagine a scenario where lawn mowers or snowblowers would be necessary while hook and line fishing for Striped Bass. It’s also absurd to assume that all gas used in a “motorboat” would be for the sole purpose of recreational fishing. What about, pleasure boating, water skiing, tubing, diving, sunbathing, marine construction, or even gill netting?
The fact is, many projects such as fish stocking, that benefit recreational fishermen are funded by anglers and non-anglers alike.
In my mind this raises a couple of very important questions.
Should a state agency, or anyone else, be allowed to restrict commercial, consumer, or recreational access to a resource we as taxpayers bought and paid for?
Or
Should they be allowed to choke out commercial and consumer access to other fisheries, through a gill net ban, while trying to establish sole ownership of a resource we all contributed to?
The answer to both is NO!
In the Striped Bass FMP decision document, the Division states that “sustainability of Tar-Pamlico and Neuse River stocks is unlikely at any level of fishing mortality”, this includes release mortality from the recreational hook and line fishery. The truth is, without addressing the issues like water flow, pollution and man-made structures preventing access to critical spawning grounds, the Striped Bass stocks in these areas cannot maintain or increase abundance without stocking of hatchery reared fish, with or without a gillnet fishery!
This is true in many fisheries across NC and the rest of the Country.
                                                     Think about it.
Why does NC and other states stock trout or other species into mountain streams and lakes across the country where gill nets have never been used?
 Why has Texas, which banned the use of gillnets in the 1980’s, released over 800 million Red Drum into their waters, if gillnets were truly the issue? This debate is, and always has been, about allocation or ownership of our marine resources.
Why else would a, supposedly objective, Commission choose to reward catch and release anglers with sole ownership of a bought and paid for stock while eliminating all access to anglers, seafood harvesters, and consumers who view this resource as a source of food?
The MFC and WRC could manage the CSMA Striped Bass fishery as a put and take fishery, for the benefit of all NC citizens who contribute to stocking if they choose. In the very least they could allow gillnets to be used as they were, prior to March of 2019, with restrictions that were proven to reduce the mortality of Striped Bass when the commercial harvest season was closed.
Maybe everyone who contributed to the stocking of these fish, commercial fishermen, anglers, and consumers, should let the Advisory Committees and MFC know gillnets are not the problem and their use should be allowed above the ferry lines in the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers, as it was prior to 2019!
Opportunities to offer public comment are listed below.
Will you speak up?
Glenn Skinner
NCFA- Executive Director
THE PRESS RELEASE BELOW IS FROM 2019
Date: March 14, 2019
Phone: 919-618-0968
Secretary Regan’s Statement on Marine Fisheries
Commission’s Non-Emergency
RALEIGH — N.C. Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael S. Regan issued the following statement on the emergency meeting called by the Marine Fisheries Commission this week:
I am disappointed by the Marine Fisheries Commission calling an emergency meeting with only 48 hours notice for a non-emergency. The Commission used bad judgment in directing the Division of Marine Fisheries Director to take actions that contradict science and the recommendations of the division’s scientists. I certainly hope this is not a precedent we will see again from this Commission.
The statute empowering the Marine Fisheries Commission to direct issuance of gill net bans in certain areas does not authorize the Secretary or the Department discretion to overturn such a directive.
nr-26-2019

REMINDER: Division of Marine Fisheries opens public comment, schedules listening session and advisory committee meetings

on Estuarine Striped Bass Plan Amendment

MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries has opened public comment on the Draft Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan Amendment 2 and will hold an online listening session about the draft amendment on March 9 at 1 p.m. The listening session prefaces three Marine Fisheries Commission advisory committee meetings where public comment will be accepted.
NCDMF Listening Session
Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan Amendment 2
March 9 at 1 p.m.
At the listening session, division staff will present details of the draft amendment and allow the public opportunity to ask questions. The presentation will be recorded and posted on the Information on Estuarine Striped Bass Amendment 2 webpage.
The following week, three Marine Fisheries Commission advisory committees will meet to review and accept public comment on the draft amendment. The public may attend the advisory committee meetings and give public comment by web conference or in-person. Those who wish to speak during the public comment sessions must preregister by 5 p.m. the day prior to the meeting.
Below are the meeting dates, times, locations, and speaker registration links and deadlines. All in-person meetings are being held at the Division of Marine Fisheries Central District Office. Two listening stations will be available in Manteo and Wilmington. Listening Stations are locations where the public can listen to the meeting and provide comment during the public comment period. Preregistration is required for both in-person and web conference comments.
Meeting
Date
Time
Speaker Registration
Northern Regional Advisory Committee
Mar. 15
6 p.m.
Sign up to speak by 5 p.m. Mar. 14
Southern Regional Advisory Committee
Mar. 16
6 p.m.
Sign up to speak by 5 p.m. Mar. 15
Finfish Advisory Committee
Mar. 17
6 p.m.
Sign up to speak by 5 p.m. Mar. 16
In-Person Location
Listening Stations
Division of Marine Fisheries
Central District Office
5285 Highway 70 West
Morehead City
Department of Environmental Quality
Wilmington Regional Office
127 Cardinal Drive
Wilmington
Dare County Administration Building
Commissioners Meeting Room
954 Marshall C. Collins Drive
Manteo
Links to join the advisory committee meetings by web conference are posted on the Marine Fisheries Commission Advisory Committees Meetings webpage.
The public also may submit comments on the Draft Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan Amendment 2 through an online questionnaire or through mail:
1.     Submit Online Comments – Public comments will be accepted through an online form until 5 p.m. on April 1. Click here to submit comments online.
2.     Mail Comments – Written comments may be mailed to Draft Estuarine Striped Bass FMP Amendment 2 Comments, P.O Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. on April 1, 2022.
Emailed comments will not be accepted.
Draft Amendment 2 to the Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan was jointly developed with Wildlife Resources Commission staff. Amendment 2 contains a suite of management options to address sustainable harvest in the Albemarle Sound and Roanoke River management areas and the Tar-Pamlico, Neuse, and Cape Fear rivers. Consideration of management for hook and line as a commercial gear is also included.
A companion Decision Document to the Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan Amendment 2 includes the Division and Wildlife Resources Commission staff initial recommendations and rationale. More information is available on the Information on Estuarine Striped Bass Amendment 2 webpage.
The Marine Fisheries Commission is scheduled to consider public comment and advisory committee input and select its preferred management measures for departmental and legislative review at its May 2022 business meeting and consider final approval of the amendment in August 2022.
For more information contact division biologists Charlton Godwin at 252-381-6000, Todd Mathes at 252-946-6481, Nathaniel Hancock at 252-381-6005, or Joe Facendola at 910-796-7291.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE:
Last week we provided a listing of primary election candidates who will be on the ballot in May for state and congressional elections. Only those races for coastal districts were listed.
Here are the links for Congressional districts and North Carolina Senate and House districts that were finalized recently. If you can’t figure out what district you are in with the new maps, drop us a note and we’ll let you know.
CONGRESSIONAL MAP:
NC SENATE MAP:
NC HOUSE MAP:
GENERAL ASSEMBLY LAST WEEK:
The Senate met for one day last Wednesday with the House meeting on Thursday. The Senate attempted to override one of Governor Cooper’s vetos but failed. In addition they passed a ‘technical corrections” bill. Those are the kinds of bills one needs to watch very closely because they can include provisions that are not just “technical” but can make substantial changes. They are also difficult to assess because leadership holds them close to the vest. When I arrived in Raleigh on Wednesday none of the Senators I spoke to had seen the bill yet.
As it turns out, the only fisheries related provision was to extend the deadline for a fisheries study by the UNC Collaboratory from June 2023 to 2025. That wasn’t a surprise to us as Jeff Warren, Executive Director for the Collaboratory informed me of their request a few weeks ago to extend the date for the final report to be made to the Environmental Review Commission.
Hopefully, the General Assembly will be done, except for maybe some committee meetings, until after the primary election in May.
God bless,
Jerry

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for March 07, 2022

Have you ever noticed how the CCA, like the NC Wildlife Federation, disagrees with everything the DMF/MFC says except for when they determine a fish stock is overfished? As soon as a stock assessment comes back as “overfished” they get downright giddy at the thought of reducing harvest in yet another fishery. Their giddiness is quickly followed by claims of commercial overfishing, mis-management, and “overfished for over 20 years”, with no mention of data gaps, research needs, or scientific uncertainty. I first noticed this back in 2009, when the speckled trout stock was deemed “overfished”. >click to read the update< 12:16

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for February 21, 2022

If you’ve sat through as many Marine fisheries commission and Advisory Committee meetings as I have, then you’ve certainly heard “we’ve failed to rebuild the Southern Flounder stock.” But is it true?  Continue reading at the update. >Click here to read the Weekly Update<, to read all the updates >click here<, for older updates listed as NCFA >click here< 09:26

North Carolina Fisheries Association Weekly Update for February 14, 2022

In last weeks newsletter I mentioned a call I received from a local angler and a comment he made during our conversation. The gentleman seemed to shrug off the fact that the NC Wildlife Federation has been lying about Southern Flounder management and told me I couldn’t deny the fact that we’ve failed to rebuild the southern flounder stock or that if we had let them all spawn once we’d all get what we want, which is to harvest more fish. I took this statement as a personal challenge as I believe both claims are absurd and easy to dispute So, let’s give it a try! >click to read< 10:27