DON'T LET SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS take away our seafood and coastal jobs

PLEASE SAVE OUR SEAFOOD, JOBS AND COASTAL LIVELIHOOD!

The North Carolina Marine Fisheries Commission voted 5-3 during their February business meeting to accept a petition for rulemaking from environmental group NC Wildlife Federation (NCWF) that will implement strict rule changes on the state’s trawling industry. The rule changes would severely impede the fishery, depriving consumers of locally caught shrimp (at fair prices) while putting many out of work.

These rule changes directly violate the NC  Division of Marine Fisheries state mandate to govern public trust waters in the interest of social and economic interests of NC citizens  by allowing a special interest group  to make changes with skewed science and politics.

Carolina businesses, fishing families and coastal communities depend on catches from trawlers - namely shrimp - as a source of economic commerce, as well as locally-grown, organic protein.

Ignored was  the recommendation of five advisory committees to deny the NCWF petition. Also ignored were recommendations from DMF staffers, as well as hours of pleas from members of the public.The five voters also ignored two years of work by DMF, scientists, recreational and commercial fishing stakeholders, as well as scientists that worked hard to  form a new shrimp fishery management plan that took effect this year.

DMF has been actively monitoring the shrimping industry for five decades. Almost a million acres of the internal waters of NC are closed to trawling, further proving the DMF is doing their job to protect public trust waters. Our state has a proud history of fishery management and exemplentionary data collection that is in place to protect public trust waters, while managing the economics of harvesting seafood for our consumers.

The NCWF petition left out any consideration or study of economic factors affecting the coastal Carolina economy. Good news is the our state’s Division of Marine Fisheries is mandated to perform economic analysis prior to any rule implementation or change. The bad news is NC taxpayers will be footing the bill.

More than 90 percent of all shrimp consumed in the country comes from foreign countries. Importing this commodity not only puts Americans out of jobs, it jeopardizes our health by marketing a poorly inspected product.

Scientists, commercial fishing industry workers - including seafood dealers, captains, deckhands and their families - as well as consumers of fresh seafood, turned out in masses to speak against these rules at MFC meetings in January and February. Trawlers even steamed to the Neuse River to anchor in front of the New Bern convention center to stand up for their profession.

This solid show of solidarity was blatantly ignored by five members of the (Pat McCrory) governor-appointed members of the MFC.

Please consider consumers and our coastal economy when imposing strict rules in our state's waters. Keep our fishermen working and keep seafood on our tables. Do not designate North Carolina waters as permanent secondary nursery areas.

The NC Wildlife Federation’s rules will designate all coastal fishing waters (including the ocean out to three miles) as special secondary nursery areas; cut the fishery to a 3-day work week; and place stricter gear definitions. It also calls for DMF staffers to police and enforce 45-minute fishing time, as well as daytime only fishing. These new rules will not only be taxing for staff to implement, they will also create an extreme workload for enforcement.

 

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