| June 11, 2008
Dare’s new Commission for Working Watermen will address commercial fishing issues
By SUSAN WEST
County commissioner Mike Johnson said the newly formed Dare County
Commission for Working Watermen could serve as a pathway for building
similar efforts in other North Carolina counties.
“Once we get going and can speak to the problems, we will be able
to go to other counties and build a strong coastal coalition
quickly,” said Johnson, chairman of the new commission.
“There’s already interest in Hyde County in what we are doing,” he said in a telephone interview.
The Commission for Working Watermen (CWW) is charged with developing,
cultivating, conserving, and protecting the county’s fishing
That responsibility might be described as Herculean at a time when high
fuel prices, increasing marketplace competition from imported seafood,
and a tangled web of state and federal fishing restrictions threaten
But Dare County watermen are a tenacious lot, and the fishermen serving on the CWW seem undaunted by the task.
“This commission opens another door for finding solutions,”
said CWW member Mikey Daniels, a commercial fisherman who also serves
on the state fisheries commission.
“Times aren’t good for anyone working on the water, but
I’m confident we’ll figure out ways to help different types
of fishermen. We’re all in this together. We’re all
in the same boat,” he said.
CWW will advise the Dare County Board of Commissioners on rules and
regulations that impact the fishing industry and will recommend actions
for the board to consider.
Jamie Reibel, CWW vice-chairman and captain of the charter-boat
Phideaux, said he thought it fitting that Dare County has taken the
lead in addressing issues of concern to watermen.
“Dare County stands to lose more, economically and culturally,
than any other county if the state’s fishing industry
collapses,” Reibel said.
The county is the major seafood producing county in the state, with
landings exceeding 21.8 million pounds in 2007, and is also home to a
legendary charter-fishing industry.
The CWW has tentatively decided to meet every two weeks.
“But it could be that we’ll want to meet more frequently as we get involved with an issue,” Johnson said.
He said the CWW would begin identifying and prioritizing issues at the next meeting.
Johnson encouraged watermen in the county to attend CWW meetings or to contact CWW members.
In addition to Johnson, Daniels, and Reibel, Kelly Schoolcraft, Dewey
Hemilright, and Phil Ray Haywood serve on the commission.
Meeting notices will be posted on the calendar at the Dare County Web site (www.co.dare.nc.us), in local newspapers, and on Ahab’s Journal (www.ahabsjournal.typepad.com ), the Outer Banks Sentinel’s commercial fishing industry blog.
The next CWW meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 17, at 7 p.m., at the Dare County Administrative Annex in Manteo.